Series preview: Don’t overlook the Marlins

ST. LOUIS – When the Cardinals and Marlins opened Marlins Park in 2012, Kyle Lohse started for St. Louis, Rafael Furcal led off and Jason Motte finished the 4-1 victory. None of the three will be suiting up in Miami this weekend.

But if you think the Cardinals will bring a different look into the three-game series, check the Marlins. Six of the eight position players who started the 2012 season opener have been traded. Three starting pitchers also have been moved, the manager — remember Ozzie Guillen — fired and payroll slashed.

Not surprisingly, attendance has plummeted, too. Average attendance has dropped from 13th best in the majors (27,400) last year to 26th-worst. Unbelievably, the Marlins’ average crowd of 17,399 is smaller than what the team averaged in any of its final three years playing at the football stadium.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are second in attendance (40,950) as well as first in a lot of statistical categories. The disparity in the teams’ statistical rankings, in fact, is about as great as the difference in their crowd counts.

Have a look:

The Cardinals own the majors’ best record, 43-22. The Marlins have the worst, 19-46, which puts them 24 games behind St. Louis in the standings. The Cardinals have won more road games (23) than the Marlins have won games.

The Cardinals top the N.L. in scoring with 327 runs, the Marlins are at
the bottom with 194. The 133-run difference — in the same number of
games — works out to more than two runs a game.

The Marlins have one player, Justin Ruggiano, with 20 RBIs. The Cardinals have – gulp — nine.

The Marlins have hit 33 home runs while the Cardinals — their power numbers are down, remember — have 57.

Marlins starters are 11-32 with a 4.13 ERA, Cardinals starters 36-14 with a 2.78.

Juan Pierre leads the Marlins with 27 runs scored. The Cardinals have
six players who have scored more than that, led by Matt Carpenter with

The Marlins don’t have a pitcher with more than three wins. The Cardinals have five with at least four.

Of course, despite the lopsided numbers, they still have to play the games and the Marlins enter the series in their best shape of the season. Young sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison came off the disabled list this week and should be in the lineup all weekend. Since ending a nine-game losing streak May 31, the Marlins have gone 6-5.

In Friday night’s opener, St. Louis will have to face one of the league’s top young starters for the second day in a row. Jose Fernandez hasn’t attracted the attention of the Mets’ Matt Harvey, but the Marlins’ 20-year-old right-hander has a future considered just as promising. Fernandez, 3-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 starts, will oppose Jake Westbrook in Friday night’s opener.

The Cardinals will miss right-hander Jacob Turner, the Westminster Christian Academy product, who has turned in quality starts in all three of his outings since being called up May 31.

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