MLB: Cardinals search for improved offense vs. Dodgers

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After using just two starting pitchers over their first three games, the Los Angeles Dodgers will get a new face into the mix when hard-throwing right-hander Bobby Miller makes his season debut against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.

The teams faced off Thursday, with the Cardinals playing in their season opener, as the Dodgers used early offense and standout pitching for a 7-1 victory. The game was the home opener for the Dodgers, who played twice in South Korea last week, splitting a pair of early regular-season contests against the San Diego Padres.

Despite a week off between games that count, the Dodgers got into the swing of things early on Thursday. Los Angeles scored two runs in the first inning and three more in the third on home runs from Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

Shohei Ohtani has been added into the Dodgers’ mix, and if last week’s news that he is the potential victim of financial fraud with ties to a bookmaker had him out of sorts, it didn’t show. Betts, Ohtani and Freeman combined to go 5-for-8 with six runs and four RBIs.

“Overall, I had quality at-bats,” Ohtani said through an interpreter after he went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run. He had struggled in three exhibition games after the team returned from South Korea.

“In that Anaheim (spring training) series, it just didn’t look right, but (Thursday) it looked more like Shohei,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He rode out a changeup for a double and then a base hit was hit really hard so it was much better.”

Miller delivered an impressive rookie season in 2023, going 11-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 22 starts. He did not face the Cardinals.

St. Louis will counter with left-hander Zack Thompson, who will be making his 11th career start after working mostly as a reliever over his first two seasons. He finished 5-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 games (nine starts) last year.

Thompson has made three career appearances against the Dodgers, all in relief, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

Without three of their top outfielders, the Cardinals struggled for offense on Thursday. All three of their hits came from Paul Goldschmidt, who delivered St. Louis’ only run with a fourth-inning home run.

Success against the Dodgers is nothing new for the Cardinals slugger. He has 34 career home runs against the Dodgers, his highest total against any team. And his 19 home runs at Los Angeles are tied for his most in any ballpark he has never called his own, level with the number he has socked at Cincinnati.

Most of Goldschmidt’s damage vs. the Dodgers came when he played for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“You’d rather start good than bad, but it’s just one game,” Goldschmidt said. “Who knows what tomorrow holds. … Obviously not a great performance by us, but you go out and win tomorrow you’re 1-1. It’s a long season.”

With St. Louis outfielders Tommy Edman (wrist), Lars Nootbaar (ribs) and Dylan Carlson (shoulder) all injured, the Cardinals started Brendan Donovan, Victor Scott II and Jordan Walker from left to right. They were a combined 0-for-10 at the plate.

The three hits the Cardinals managed were the team’s fewest in a season opener since 1986.

–Field Level Media

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