The first three Cardinals foes were collectively 50 games under .500 last season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were 50 games above. And it showed, as they drubbed the Cards (6-4) 6-0 on Monday, behind Clayton Kershaw's nine strikeouts and a smattering of four singles.
The comparison of he 50/50 may not be totally fair, as Baltimore was on its ownsome 54 games below, and Cincinnati another 12. It took the Milwaukee Brewers, who were 16 games over, to bring the tally back to "only" 50 games under.
But this Dodgers team is another thing altogether. With 106 wins last year, their fans thought it was time to snare their first World Series since 1988. Instead, they were sent home by the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series.
That disappointing finish, however, did nothing to suggest the Dodgers were deficient in any particular way; those things happen in the playoffs, and a 3-2 series loss to the eventual World Series champs would hardly be a shameful result for most teams.
But this is the Dodgers, built upon the backs of unlimited bucks. And seven straight years in the playoffs, with two in the World Series, with no championship to show for it, is doing little but building frustration among the Los Angeles (and Brooklyn) loyal.
Today was a representative sampling of who and what the Dodgers are. Kershaw was barely touchable, with a single single in each of four innings, and a walk in another two. Six baserunners, no one reached second.
In other words, utter domination, the Kershaw of a few years back and of a healthier back. Two hits from Kolten Wong (he does not seem to mind facing the almost certain future Hall of Famer), one each from Paul DeJong and Dylan Carlson.
If it were May or June, this would have been an eight inning outing or complete game. But the strikeouts extended Kershaw's tally to 84 pitches, so he lasted seven. Blake Treinen and Pedro Baez finished with no problem.
The same couldn't be true of Austin Gomber. He was around the plate but with stuff that a team this precocious wouldn't leave go to waste.
Max Muncy homered in the second with one on, and Cody Bellinger did the same in the third. Gomber was able to escape two, two-out, two-on situations in the fourth and fifth, and at that point, he had sweated through 81 pitches and retired to the clubhouse.
John Gant was able to hold the Dodgers to only two more, this time on another two-run dinger by Justin Turner in the seventh. Gant lasted three innings in total, and Tyler Webb took the ninth, holding the half-dozen run margin before the Cards went down meekly to end the game.
"No disrespect to our previous opponents," said Webb, "but it's easy to see why they are who they are and what they can do. They have pop, they have patience, they have pitching, they have it all. We weren't a match today. Maybe tomorrow."
Next Up and Notes: Manager Mike Shildt has decided he wants to see what newcomer Kwang Hyun Kim can do with a start tomorrow. Daniel Poncedelon will follow, with Jack Flaherty finishing on Thursday afternoon. Walker Buehler will go Tuesday, with Jose Urias on Wednesday. Manager Dave Roberts has not announced his Thursday starter yet.