Cardinals on record-breaking power binge

ST. LOUIS -- During spring training, when a reporter suggested the St. Louis Cardinals had shown little of the power the team had promised, manager Mike Matheny said he gets his "hackles up" whenever he hears such talk.

Apparently, so do his hitters.

The Cardinals' offense has been startlingly robust in the first couple of weeks. After Friday night's 14-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds, the Cardinals are averaging 7.3 runs per game. Going into the game, only two teams, the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, were scoring more freely and the Cardinals had the fourth-best slugging percentage in the major leagues.

It went up considerably Friday. The Cardinals' six home runs Friday were their most in one game in the 10-year history of the new Busch Stadium.

Matt Holliday joined the party Friday with his first and second home runs of the season, one of which sailed 50 feet beyond the center-field fence. Holliday didn't hit his second home run of 2015 until May 8.

Since the Cardinals left the cold weather in Pittsburgh and encountered the welcoming pitching of the Atlanta Braves and the two worst teams in the NL Central, they have been feasting. Randal Grichuk, Matt Adams, Brandon Moss and Aledmys Diaz also homered Friday.

The Cardinals are waiting for strikes and pouncing on mistakes. Cincinnati starter Tim Melville, who grew up about 25 miles west of Busch Stadium, threw nine straight balls to open his night before finding the strike zone. His 11th pitch was a strike, too, as well as a Holliday three-run home run to center field.

Cardinals pinch hitters, particularly Moss, have been especially lethal. They have homered six times this season, more than they did all of last year. They are the first team in major league history to come up with that many pinch-hit home runs in their first 10 games. The club record for a season is 10, so they have 152 games to hit five and break it.

It was all plenty more than Carlos Martinez needed. He gave up three runs on a pair of bloops and a blast -- Joey Votto's opposite-field home run -- but otherwise cruised through seven innings, striking out six and giving up six hits.