The Cardinals traveled back south to Florida on Monday to begin a three game series against the Marlins. Daniel Ponce de Leon got the start for St. Louis against Trevor Rogers for Miami, making for a favorable matchup for both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, whose career slugging percentages against left-handed pitchers are .589 and .601, respectively.
Rogers struggled to find the strike zone in the first inning, throwing eight straight balls and walking both Tommy Edman and Goldschmidt to begin the game. He finally gained the strike zone against Arenado, who popped out to center field for the first out. Paul DeJong followed, and Rogers threw a wild pitch on an 0-1 count that went to the backstop, advancing the runners to second and third with one out. DeJong then worked the count full before drawing a walk that loaded the bases for Tyler O’Neill. The first pitch to O’Neill was just off the plate, and the ball glanced off the glove of Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro. The ball rolled to the backstop once again, and all runners advanced, scoring Edman and giving the Cards a 1-0 lead.
Rogers came back to freeze O’Neill on a 1-2 fastball, the first of fourteen strikeouts in the game for St. Louis hitters, bringing Yadier Molina to the plate with runners on second and third and two away. Yadi ripped the first pitch he saw off the center field wall for a double. Goldschmidt and DeJong scored, extending the Cards’ lead to 3-0. Carlson drew a walk in a ten pitch plate appearance before Austin Dean went down swinging for the third out.
Ponce de Leon worked a solid first inning, striking out Corey Dickerson before grazing Starling Marte’s jersey with an 0-1 fastball for a HBP. Jesus Aguilar and Adam Duvall both flew out to Carlson in center field to end the Marlins’ half of the inning.
After a laborious, 38 pitch first inning, Rogers seemed to settle in. After Ponce de Leon struck out looking, Edman drilled a hard ground ball to shortstop. Miguel Rojas was forced to make a difficult backhanded stop before throwing to first for the second out.
Goldschmidt flew out to left field, and the side was retired with an efficient nine pitch inning from Rogers.
Brian Anderson led off the second inning for the Marlins by flying out to center field. Rojas threw his bat out at a fastball that was low and away on a 3-2 count, and was rewarded with a bloop single to shallow right. The Marlins couldn’t capitalize, however, as Alfaro and Jon Berti both struck out, swinging through Ponce’s fastballs.
The third inning went by quietly for both teams. Arenado muscled a broken-bat single to left field and Marte’s jersey caught a second fastball from Ponce de Leon, but both sides were retired without any threats materializing.
The Cardinals went down in order in the top of the fourth, with a groundout from Carlson, a flyout by Dean, and another strikeout for Ponce de Leon.
After Duvall flew out to deep left on an 0-1 fastball, Anderson hit a hard double to left center. Rojas grounded out to third, unable to advance the runner, and Alfaro grounded out to DeJong to end the inning.
Jon Curtiss replaced Rogers in the top of the fifth to face Edman. Curtiss threw a slider that caught a little too much of the plate, and Edman hit it on the screws down the right field line for a home run to put the Cardinals up 4-0. Arenado popped out to Alfaro, and DeJong and O’Neill struck out to send the game to the bottom of the fifth.
We might need a new nickname for Tommy Triples... pic.twitter.com/tHe2P8O5Op— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 6, 2021
Berti led off the bottom of the inning with a walk after working a full count. A familiar face in Magneuris Sierra pinch hit for the pitcher spot, and dropped a hard bunt down the third base line. Arenado fielded it cleanly and looked to throw out the lead runner at second, but neither of the middle infielders covered the base and both runners were safe. Dickerson grounded out to first, advancing the runners to second and third for Marte, who hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Berti, bringing the score to 4-1 in favor of St. Louis, and place Sierra at third. Aguilar flew out on yet another Ponce de Leon fastball, bringing the Marlins’ threat to a close.
The rest of the game was somewhat uneventful, which was a relief given how the weekend series in Cincinnati went. Jordan Holloway came in to pitch for Miami, and retired Yadi, Carlson, and Dean, all in eight total pitches.
Jordan Hicks replaced Ponce de Leon in the bottom of the sixth, and had no trouble putting away Duvall, Anderson, and Rojas while hitting triple digits on the radar gun.
Holloway returned in the top of the seventh for a second inning of work, sitting down the pinch hitting Matt Carpenter as well as Edman and Goldschmidt with little difficulty.
Giovanny Gallegos was summoned to pitch the bottom of the inning and retired Alfaro, Berti, and Lewis Brinston, who was pinch hitting for Holloway, for a clean inning.
Adam Cimber replaced Holloway to face the heart of the Cardinals’ order. Arenado hit a line drive to left for his second hit of the day. DeJong followed and struck out looking a slider. O’Neill hit a grounder to Anderson at third, who threw out Arenado at second, but O’Neill hustled down the line and beat the throw to first to prevent the double play, resulting in two outs with a runner on first. O’Neill then attempted to steal second during Yadi’s at bat, but came off the bag on the slide and was tagged for out number three.
Gallegos pitched a strong eighth inning, beginning with a flyout to left by Dickerson and a groundout to shortstop for Marte. Aguilar reached first on a single to right field, but wasn’t there long, as Duvall struck out swinging for the third out.
Ross Detwiler was the hurler for the Marlins in the ninth, and got Yadi to pop out to first, before striking out Carlson and Dean to bring the strikeout total to fourteen for the Cardinals hitters.
Alex Reyes closed the game out for the Cardinals. He retired Anderson and Rojas on flyouts before giving up a base hit to Alfaro. Berti grounded out to DeJong, who made the easy throw to second for the last out of the game, making the 4-1 score final.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 2-2 on the season, while the Marlins drop to 1-3. Game 2 of the series starts at 5:40 PM CDT Tuesday, with the Cardinals’ John Gant taking the hill against the Springfield alumnus Sandy Alcantara.
According to the Cardinals broadcast, 88 of the 93 pitches thrown by Ponce de Leon were fastballs. The other pitches were a mixture of sliders and changeups, and while it wasn’t the most efficient outing, it was a pleasant sight to see the starter and the bullpen throw some clean innings.
With fourteen strikeouts tonight, the Cardinals are averaging almost eleven per game through the young season. It’s far too early to be talking about season trends, but this is one that I’m hoping doesn’t continue much farther into the season.
Yadi’s first inning double was number 382 on his career, passing Johnny Bench for 8th most all time by a catcher.
Final Pitching Lines
Ponce de Leon (W, 1-0): 5 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 3 K
Hicks (H, 1): 1 IP / 0 H / 1 K
Gallegos (H, 1): 2 IP / 1 H / 2 K
Reyes (S, 1): 1 IP / 1 H
Rogers (L, 0-1): 4 IP / 2 H / 3 R / 2 ER / 4 BB / 6 K
Curtiss: 1 IP / 2 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 K / 1 HR
Holloway: 2 IP / 0 H / 3 K
Cimber: 1 IP / 1 H / 1 K
Detwiler: 1 IP / 0 H / 2 K