It's not really a fair fight, and not just with the Cardinals, but just about anybody.
Only 24 games into the 2020 season, the Miami Marlins are trying to top -- or should we say, bottom -- their futility of last year.
After finishing perilously close to .500 in 2016 with 79 wins, it's been deeper underwater since then. Last year, the Fish had the inverse record of the Los Angeles Dodgers' sparkling 105-57. Winning one out of about every three games is not going to win either division titles or beauty pageants.
The Cards rather easy 6-1 victory at Busch Stadium Friday night was fairly common for Miami this year, who fell to 7-17, which to emphasize last year's frustrations, is actually better than they did in 2019.
Carlos Martinez, who seems for the most part back to form, if not consistently so, pitched six easy innings, surrendering only three hits and a couple walks, while striking out seven. Daniel Poncedeleon, whose stint in the rotation has ended, at least for now, threw all three relief innings with nary a run.
Dexter Fowler, who's been sharing some of his right-field duties as of late with Tyler O'Neill, featured prominently on offense Friday, with two singles and a double. He drove in Harrison Bader in the second and Matt Carpenter in the fourth, and scored from first on a Tommy Edman double in the seventh.
All that was sandwiched around a three-run, 410-foot homer from shortstop Brad Miller in the fifth inning.
"That felt nice, that homer," said Miller. "I was able to get a hanger, and yeah, I'm not proud, I'll take anything that looks good up there. I was able to square it and was glad to see it go."
All those runs except the seventh inning ones were scored off Marlins starter, and former Redbird, Sandy Alcantara. He was not sharp, and his stuff was eminently hittable. In addition to giving up three runs, he stranded six baserunners, and just plain struggled the whole time.
Martinez, meanwhile, made it look easy. A walk to Isan Diaz in the fourth followed by a Jonathan Villar homer was about it for Cmart, who otherwise never had more than one runner on base in his other frames.
"He was totally nonplussed out there," said Cards pitching coach Mike Maddux. "Often the catcher heeds to chat with him a time or two. Today, not needed. Sharp, simple, confident, impressive. I'll take that every single time."
The Marlins still rely mostly on their youngsters in the lineup, but their mix is a bit more balanced now. Veteran outfielders Corey Dickerson and Matt Joyce, along with Villar and catcher Francisco Cervelli, accompany some of their less experienced position players.
So far, it's not looking much different than last year, or the year before that, or...well, you get the picture. But there's not quite as much pressure for the relative newbies to carry the load, and that might pan out over the course of a full season.
Next Up and Notes: Adam Wainwright takes the mound Saturday against an undetermined Marlins starter. Miller has been a nice surprise at short, with only three errors to date and a bit more range than the Cards were expecting. The Miller-Kolten Wong tandem have turned five double plays so far, and Wong appears well in sync with Miller's cadence on his movement and tosses.