MLB Opening Night 2012: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Miami Marlins

The St. Louis Cardinals (0-0) and Miami Marlins (0-0) have finished their Spring Training schedules and will kick off their 2012 season inside a new ball park on Wednesday night on ESPN.

St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins 

The St. Louis Cardinals begin life without star first baseman Albert Pujols on Wednesday night

St. Louis definitely has a different look to it after winning an improbable World Series last year, as Tony La Russa is no longer controlling the dugout and star first baseman Albert Pujols is now found batting third in the Los Angeles Angels lineup.  “We had a lot of guys step up,” commented Cardinals opening day starter Kyle Lohse.  The franchise finished last year’s regular season with a flourish, winning 23 of its last 32 games to earn the National League’s wild card spot.  Tonight’s game is certainly important, but the franchise will play 27 consecutive contests against division rivals starting Friday.  St. Louis is 5-1 ATS as a road underdog of +151 to +200.

Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse tallied a solid 14-8 record and 3.39 ERA in 30 starts during the 2011 campaign.  The right-hander performed brilliantly at times on the road, going 8-3 with a 3.13 ERA, as he allowed just five home runs in 97 2/3 innings.  Lohse also finished the first month of the season a year ago with a 4-1 mark and 1.63 ERA, as opposing batters hit just .173 against him.  The 33-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.85 ERA in six career starts versus the Miami franchise.

Miami will officially move out of Sun Life Stadium after sharing the facility with an NFL franchise for 19 years, with Marlins Park being unveiled to the world in a nationally-televised broadcast.  The Marlins are hoping that the facility will energize the fan base, while also allowing the team to have some sort of home-field advantage.  “You can have a beautiful house with a beautiful view,” stated new manager Ozzie Guillen.  “But if the people living in the house stink, it ain’t going to be so beautiful.  Florida is 17-35 in its last 52 games.

Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson only made nine starts a year ago due to right shoulder inflammation, as the team shelved him for the rest of the year despite his willingness to pitch last September.  “At the end of the season, I was feeling fine,” commented Johnson.  “I just ran out of time.”  The right-hander was 3-1 with a sparkling 1.64 ERA in those nine outings, surrendering just two home runs in 60 1/3 innings.  Johnson is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in five career starts versus the Cardinals.

Bettors will likely back the Marlins due to being 21-7 in Johnson’s last 28 starts as a home favorite, while the Cardinals are 2-5 in Lohse’s last seven outings versus NL East squads.

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