Brazilian dancers escorting players during introductions? The flamboyant home run feature in action? Sea creature races? A living legend, Muhammad Ali, delivering the ceremonial first pitch? Why yes, a new generation of baseball has arrived in Miami. Welcome the Miami Marlins.
The Miami Marlins opened the 2012 season with a bang. Marlins Park was all it was hyped to be, and a near sellout was there to cherish some history in the making.
Marlins ace, Josh Johnson, was assigned to face the St.Louis Cardinals, who despite losing Albert Pujols, still have a very formidable lineup featuring Holiday, Berman, and Freese. Kyle Lohse was given the start due to injuries to Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright.
After all the introductions and spectacle events taking place before hand, Josh Johnson geared up for the first official pitch in Miami Marlins history. A gorgeous night in Miami permitted the roof and glass panels in left field to be open for the inaugural game. Josh Johnson got set and delivered a strike down the middle for the first pitch in the parks history. It seemed as if there was no way the Marlins wouldn't win this game. No way. After all the off-season hype, it just seemed fitting that the Marlins would win the game in an easy and timely fashion, but things didn't work out like most would hope.
Josh Johnson had a rough first inning and it didn't get much better. The All-Star right hander pitched 6 innings allowing a career high 10 hits while giving up 3 earned runs. Things certainly could have gone worse if it wasn't for some quality defense behind him.
Besides from the Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes gaffe early on, I didn't see any noticeable miscues from the club. I found this surprising for outfielders such as Logan Morrison, who isn't known for his defense. The Marlins aren't sure how the ballpark will play out either. There are different scenarios for how the park plays depending on if the roof is open/unopen as well as the glass panels. Tonight, the ballpark seemed to play fair to both hitters and pitchers.
However, the Marlins hitters probably didn't think the park played fair based on the outcome of facing Kyle Lohse. Lohse pitched a terrific game, and held the Marlins hitless through 6 innings. Jose Reyes, who gad 2 of the teams 4 hits, was the first to get on with a hit to right field vs. Lohse.
Mike Dunn, Randy Choate, and Steve Cishek all pitched scoreless innings, while Ryan Webb allowed 1 earned run without recording an out.
Despite a little ray of hope for a rally in the bottom of the 9th, the Miami Marlins came up short 4-1 to the St.Louis Cardinals behind the brilliance of Kyle Lohse (7.1 innings, 1ER, 0BB, 3K).
Don't worry Marlins fans, this team has a lot to be looking forward to. A revamped starting rotation, young bats, superstars, you name it. This team is getting all this hype for a reason. No doubt in my mind that the Marlins can and will be contenders this season.
Sit back and buckle up Miami, this is a new generation and era of Marlins baseball. This is going to be one very fun ride...