MIAMI — Tuesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Marlins 1
Albert Pujols is no longer the hitter he was during his decade of dominance with the Cardinals between 2001 and 2011, but one fact is becoming increasingly obvious in the early stages of this season.
He can still hit left-handed pitching.
Signed late in spring training to primarily serve as the DH against lefthanders, Pujols has gotten off to a great start – limited only by the lack of lefthanders starting against the Cardinals.
He got to face another one, Jesus Luzardo, on Tuesday night in Miami and he didn’t miss the chance to add to his hit total.
Pujols doubled in the second inning and singled in the third off Luzardo, both times coming around to score as the Cardinals went on to beat the Marlins in the opener of a three-game series.
The two hits left Pujols 6-of-9 against lefthanders so far this season with a double and two home runs. He is just 1-of-9 against righthanders.
The bad news for the Cardinals is that the Marlins are schedule to start righthanders in the remaining two games of the series.
Here is how Tuesday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: Pujols scored in the second on a two-out double by Paul DeJong, who later scored on an error. In the third, Pujols was able to score from first on a triple by Tommy Edman … Edman also singled in a run in the fifth as he extended his hitting streak to all nine games this season … Nolan Arenado was hitless in four at-bats, snapping his eight-game streak … Yadier Molina got the start behind the plate and was 0-of-4, dropping him to 2-of-19 to begin the year … Paul Goldschmidt had a double and single, scoring on Tyler O’Neill’s single in the third.
On the mound: Adam Wainwright allowed just three hits before giving up a two-out homer in the sixth. He struck out six in his 5 2/3 innings of work … T.J. McFarland, Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos combined for the final 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, with Helsley striking out three of the five hitters he faced.
Key stat: Arenado had at least one hit in the first nine games last season. The last Cardinal to have a hit in the first 10 or more games of the season was Matt Holliday, 12 games, in 2015. The team record for the longest hitting streak to begin a season is 22 games by Joe Torre in 1971.
Worth noting: The Cardinals have won their last seven games against the Marlins, having swept the season series last year. In Miami, they are 11-2 in their last 13 games … Top prospect Nolan Gorman homered again for Triple A Memphis on Tuesday night. He has homered in each of his last five games and has seven for the season. After going 0-of-9 in the first three games of the year, Gorman has gone 14-of-32 in his last eight games, a .437 average.
Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start on Wednesday night, with Jordan Hicks set to make his first start of the season in the series finale on Thursday night.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains