Tonight’s fireworks-studded contest in St. Louis didn’t have an ideal outcome for Marlins fans. However, there were bright spots for the dedicated observer. Logan Morrison hit a straightaway tater that tape measured out at 440 feet, and Marcell Ozuna made a running shoe-top catch in left-center that chilled a Cardinal threat.
However, the hot-hitting Cardinals took advantage of every pitch left up and out, hitting four opposite-field doubles. The Cards racked up seven hits and four runs by the end of the fourth inning. Jake Westbrook pitched seven innings of baseball without recording a single strikeout. He did, however, rack up 18 groundouts and 3 flyouts. Strikeouts are nice, but ground balls to the infield work just as well, and do a better job of keeping pitch counts low.
Jacob Turner took the hill in 4-run outing that tallied the only three strikeouts by the starters. Spring training command problems weren’t the root cause of the four runs, as he only issued one walk, late in the sixth inning. Also, the four runs came across in the first three innings. Another encouraging sign that Turner can keep his cool and pitch his way out of a jam. My only comment on Turner’s outing is directed to approach, rather than specific pitching flaws.
With a lineup as stacked as the Cardinals (including the top NL hitter), an approach tailored to the lineup may have been more effective. Specifically, the Cards were driving almost every outside pitch to the opposite field. If the Marlins had made an adjustment to the inside part of the plate, the third inning might have looked a little different.
Sour grapes, however, as we couldn’t figure out how to hit the ball out of the infield against Westbrook. With the offense handcuffed, Turner would have had to have thrown an extraordinary game to have kept the game competitive.
Nathan Eovaldi faces Joe Kelly in an afternoon matchup tomorrow. Kelly is a converted reliever, filling in when necessary. As long as Eovaldi can limit the damage by one of the best offenses in baseball, the Marlins have a pretty good shot at a win tomorrow.