Cardinals feast on Marlins' young pitching, take opener 5-2

The Cardinals opened their home schedule with a 5-2 victory over the Miami Marlins, but more importantly, they might have found some consistency from their younger hitters.

In a game that saw the Cardinals collect 12 hits, four of them came from under-25 talents, as shortstop Ivan Herrera, third baseman Nolan Gorman, and outfielders Alec Burleson and Masyn Winn all produced run production.

Herrera delivered the first hit of the game in the second inning, launching a solo home run to left field off Marlins starter Ryan Weathers. It was Herrera's first hit of the season, and Weathers' first homer allowed since September 2021.

Gorman followed in the third with a double down the left-field line that scored Lars Nootbaar and stole second base with two outs in the frame. He scored on a wild pitch by Weathers, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 advantage.

Winn extended the lead to 5-0 in the fourth when he smashed a two-run home run to left, his first of the season.

But the story of the game was the Cardinals' four youngest hitters producing runs. In a game where they needed it, five of the Cardinals' 11 hits went for extra bases, four of them off the bats of their four youngest position players. The Cardinals scored all five of their runs with two outs.

It was a welcome sign for a team that has struggled mightily with injuries and positive COVID-19 tests early in the season. The Cardinals once again looked like a potential postseason contender, something they will need to show consistently to be considered a playoff team come October.

The Marlins, who have stumbled to an 0-8 start, appear to be heading in the opposite direction. They have lacked consistent pitching and have been decimated by the injury bug. They currently have 15 players on their injured list, which is double the number of players on their active roster.

Reporting on the game for the Post-Dispatch was longtime baseball writer and Hall of Fame voter Joe Strauss. Here are some of his observations from the game:

The Cardinals, despite myriad injuries and a coronavirus outbreak that forced them to cobble together a pitching staff for their first eight games, won for the seventh time in 11 tries with their repertoire of young bats. They produced 12 hits, five for extra bases, and they did it against some promising pitching prospects in Weathers and Jake Fishman.

It was a needed victory for the Cardinals, who began the day tied for last in the NL Central after being swept in a doubleheader at Colorado on Wednesday. But it was also a harbinger of a bright future, with five of the Cardinals' 11 hits coming off the bats of players who had not yet celebrated their 25th birthdays.

Herrera, the youngest player in the majors, continued his impressive spring training into the regular season. The 21-year-old switch-hitter went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run, and a stolen base in addition to his home run. He also showed off his impressive defensive skills at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Gorman, Burleson, and Winn also gave Weathers and Fishman fits. Between them, the four youngest Cardinals averaged .313 with 20 home runs, 51 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases in 2022.

It was a welcome sign for a team that has struggled with injuries and positive COVID-19 tests early in the season. The Cardinals once again looked like a potential postseason contender, something they will need to show consistently to be considered a playoff team come October.

The Marlins, who have stumbled to an 0-8 start, appear to be heading in the opposite direction. They have lacked consistent pitching and have been decimated by the injury bug. They currently have 15 players on their injured list, which is double the number of players on their active roster.

Strauss noted that the Marlins' struggles are not due to a lack of effort.

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