The St. Louis Cardinals delighted their fans with a splendid round of home run derby on Wednesday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, it took place during the game and not in batting practice as the Cards clubbed five home runs in a convincing 7-2 victory.
Tom Koehler started his first game of the spring for the Marlins and struggled from the very start giving up a leadoff double to Jon Jay in the first. He would escape the inning unscathed, but promptly ran into trouble by serving up a 2-run homer to Cards top prospect Oscar Taveras with no outs in the second inning. Koehler then repeated his act in the third by surrendering another 2-run homer with no outs in the inning, this time to Matt Holliday. On the day, he wound up lasting two and a third and allowing four earned runs on seven hits and 2 walks as his spring ERA rose to 6.75. Koehler likely came into camp battling with a cast of thousands for the fifth spot in the rotation and was certainly not helped by today’s performance.
Kevin Slowey, also in the mix for that last rotation spot, came on to relieve Koehler with one out in the third and ended up hurling a scoreless two and two thirds innings with two strikeouts. Slowey, who has starting experience with the Minnesota Twins, has yet to give up an earned run in six and one third innings this spring.
On offense, the Marlins were led by second baseman Donovan Solano who was 2-for-3 and drove in a run. He is now hitting .533 on the spring as he works to erase any questions that may have existed regarding his spot in the starting lineup. Solano was inserted into the #3 spot in the order when Placido Polanco was scratched just before the start of the game. The other Marlins run on the day came courtesy of a pinch hit home run by minor league infielder Austin Barnes.
The biggest news of the day for the Marlins may have been injury related as Polanco was scheduled to make his first appearance since Saturday, but felt some discomfort in his balky back during warm-ups and was immediately removed from the line up. He will now be given another few days off before being allowed to play in a game. In addition, highly touted prospect Jake Marisnick was hit in the left hand during an at bat and was removed from the game. X-rays on the injury came back negative.
Up Next: The Miami Marlins will take on the New York Mets on Thursday in Port St. Lucie. Likely Opening Day starter, Ricky Nolasco, will take the mound for the Marlins facing off against exciting young right-hander Matt Harvey for the Mets.