Opening Day isn't quite what it used to be. For starters, the sun should be setting about 30 minutes after Marlins righty Josh Johnson throws his first pitch to the Cardinals at 7:05 p.m. Further clouding the "Opening Night" billing of tonight's game between the revamped Marlins and the defending champion Cardinals is the fact that the Major League season actually got under way last week. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics have each already lost game, splitting a two-game series in Tokyo.
Miami Marlins (0-0, NL East)
St. Louis Cardinals (0-0, NL Central)
Marlins Park, Miami
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. EST
Marlins: Josh Johnson (right)
Cardinals: Kyle Lohse (right)
Coming off a thrilling seven-game triumph over the Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series, the Cards are facing a far more uncertain future than most reigning champs. Franchise icon and three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols left St. Louis to sign a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Further clouding the future, longtime Cards manager Tony La Russa retired after the season, giving way to former player Mike Matheny.
Coincidentally, Matheny's last at-bat in the majors came against Johnson, who will be starting tonight for the Marlins. While Johnson will be a familiar face for Marlins fans and foes, not much else about this ballclub will look the same. Tonight's game will provide our first look at the Marlins' brand new ballpark. The home team will be sporting new uniforms, too. Also, the Marlins' front office aggressively went about improving the caliber of the players who will be wearing those new duds, signing free-agent All-Stars Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.
Will either team make an early statement tonight? Should we really be calling this "Opening Night"?
STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE GAME:
Motte gets Stanton swinging with another cutter. Strong showing by Cards closer but the story of the game is the brilliant outing by Lohse, who had us all thinking no-no for a while. Bob Feller remains the only pitcher to throw an Opening Day no-hitter.
After getting ahead with a 97-mph called strike, Motte gets Stanton swinging on strike two with a 91-mph breaking pitch.
Motte burns the third strike by Ramirez, swinging. That popped 99 mph according to ESPN.
Motte fires off three fastballs to start off Ramirez. The first of two called strikes did not meet Hanley's approval..
Bonifacio chops a ball back to Motte, who throws out Reyes at second. There is no double play as Bonifacio has legs and he knows how to use them.
Bonifacio falls behind Motte, 0-2. Reyes not going anywhere.
With his first swing of the AB, Reyes slices a ball the other way and motors to first. Can the Fish rally?
Reyes watches a called four-seamer blaze by for the first strike. He watches two balls and then a second strike.
IBB works out as Freese flies out to left. Jason Motte and Jason Motte's beard are emerging from the bullpen.
|@ ChuckKingsbury : Marlins are bad. Runs produced off officiating errors. In other news, Mario Chalmers in the fast break is as sloppy as a soup sandwich #NBA|
Holliday goes after the first pitch he sees from Chisek and grounds to Infante. Furcal scoots to third. Berkman is up but is getting the intentional walk treatment. With two out and runners at the corners, the World Series MVP is up. He's 3 for 4 and loves this situation.
Beltran can't pull the ball to right and pops out to his old teammate at shortstop.
|@ JRamp47 : If you are playing Scrabble....Rzepczynski wins everytime. #STLCards|
Furcal went out after the first pitch and that ball took a long trip out to right-center field. These balls (Buck's for MIA) are carrying all of a sudden. Beltran is up and back to hitting lefty.
The Cards will have the top of the order going as they look for insurance runs. The Marlins are pitching Steve Chisek, righty.
Scrabble gets Kearns swinging for the third out in the eighth but the Marlins did scratch out a run, perhaps with help from the ump at first.
Scrabble has the ball for the Cards and Ozzie swaps out lefty Dobbs for righty Kearns as pinch-hitter. Scrabble pins his first pitch to the high-outside corner. The next one sails wide of that spot. 1-1 to Kearns. Runner on second with 2 outs.
|@ DanLevyThinks : The Marlins score their first run in the new stadium thanks to a botched call on a double play. Umpires in mid season form already!|
Buck goes down and gets a low slider and drops it over the head of Jay. Infante comes around from first to score and that dubious call at first base looms large. Pitching change.Marlins 1
Salas facing Buck, opening him with a main street fastball at 93.
The right-handed reliever comes out to face Infante. The infielder hacks at the first pitch, ground ball to second, scooped by Descalso and thrown to Furcal at third. Ball is fired back to Berkman... OUT! Um.. wait. first base ump signals safe and Berkman was on his way to the dugout. Did throw pull his foot off the bag?
Lohse paints low and away to retire Gaby Sanchez. Beautiful pitch and it ends the night for Lohse after 7 and a third. Matheny trots out to the mound.
|@ Marlins : LoMo with a leadoff hit in the 8th. Here comes the rally! RT to start the rally: #LETSGOFISH! #LETSGOFISH! #LETSGOFISH!|
Morrison ropes a ball over the head of Beltran in right but the former centerfielder plays it perfectly off the wall and unfurls a laser throw to second. LoMo stays at first. That's 84 pitches for Lohse. One on and none away. Scrabble is up in the Cards bullpen.
Lohse grounds out for the third out. Molina stranded 90 feet away but the Cards picked up an insurance run. It's 4-0 to visitors. Marlins have six outs to work with.
|@ Buster_ESPN : In David Freese's last 96 at-bats -- end of '11 regular season, '11 postseason, tonight -- he's hitting .406 (39/96).|
Descalso grounds meekly up the first base line... Freese charging home to score and Descalso tagged out by Choate, who fielded the ball. Good pitch. Good base running. 4-0 to Cardinals.
Choate attacking Descalso with sliders and sinkers. "Attacking" may be the wrong word as none have been in the strike zone. 3-0 count.
Sanchez reaches out far for Choate's wide sidearm throw after Jay knocked a sharp grounder back to the pitcher. Runners hold. Two in scoring position and one away.
Ozzie has called on lefty Randy Choate to clean up Webb's mess. He comes in with runners at second and third. Left-handed Jon Jay stands in.