1st win elusive no more: Marlins trounce Cards

Meyer earns 1st MLB win; Chisholm, Gordon crush pair of 1st-inning HRs

April 7th, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- The last time the Marlins lined up for a celebratory handshake, they rushed the field upon clinching a postseason berth. Six months is an awfully long time to wait for a victory -- so what was another 46 minutes thanks to a rain delay with three outs to go?

Marlins No. 3 prospect Max Meyer cruised to his first Major League win behind a pair of huge homers from Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Nick Gordon in a six-run first inning of Miami’s 10-3 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

The postgame clubhouse felt lighter with the return of smiles and the release of tension. The music was dialed up to 11.

“It's been kind of hard, you know?” Chisholm said. “It's always hard going through a losing streak as a team. But for us, I feel like we kept it positive in a great way, like we were always positive. We were doing different rituals, having fun. Guys were going in the shower in their jerseys. Everybody was laughing. You know what I'm saying? We just kept it up. We kept up the laughter. We kept up the positivity in the clubhouse, and that's why we had a good game today.”

In picking up its first win, Miami avoided becoming just the seventh ballclub in the modern era (since 1900) to lose 10 or more games in a row to start a season. The club’s nine-game skid had matched the Majors’ longest such streak since Minnesota and Atlanta in 2016.

Setting the tone was Meyer, who went six innings -- the first Marlins starter to do so in 2024 -- in just his fourth Major League start. He didn’t allow a baserunner until Nolan Gorman’s one-out solo homer in the fifth. Chisholm leapt at the wall in center field on the play, but the ball bounced out of his glove upon impact. Overall, the 25-year-old Meyer allowed just three hits, striking out three and walking one in an 83-pitch outing. He induced 11 groundouts with his slider/four-seam combination.

“Obviously, I want to go out there and pitch five, six, seven innings every time,” Meyer said, “and this is just kind of the base now I feel like for me and for all the starters to just go out there and start winning some ballgames.”

Much of Miami’s early-season struggles can be traced to the starting staff, which entered Sunday with a 5.13 ERA -- 12th in the NL. Through two turns of the rotation, Meyer has been the club’s best starter, permitting just three runs across 11 innings.

This is not what the Marlins would have predicted in mid-March, when they optioned Meyer to Triple-A Jacksonville. They intended to ease him back into the Majors after he went 19 months between MLB outings because of rehab from Tommy John surgery. But due to injuries to right-handers Edward Cabrera and Eury Pérez, as well as left-hander Braxton Garrett, necessity won out.

“Max was really the story today,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “It's exactly what we needed. He's easy to root for; he's just different out there. He's a special kid that has this like ninth-inning mentality every pitch, and he has a bright future here.”

Meyer was the benefactor of a pair of three-run homers by Chisholm and Gordon off right-hander Kyle Gibson. Entering the series finale, the Marlins had scored a first-inning run in just two of their nine games this year, and they had gone deep once.

It marked the first time the Marlins have scored six runs in the first inning since June 16, 2015, when they tallied eight runs en route to a 12-2 win over the Yankees. They improved to 20-1 in franchise history when scoring at least six runs in the opening frame.

“This is a game, at the end of the day,” Gordon said. “If we take every loss as the end of the world, you know, it's 162 games -- you'd be in your feelings for quite a bit. It's really just about seeing a new day every day, and taking it all in and being happy to be here.”

With the first victory out of the way, perhaps Miami can begin a winning streak. Things won’t get easier: The next 16 games are against postseason contenders.

“I've managed the same way if we were 0-9 or 9-0,” Schumaker said. “I think the mentality is -- just you go about it the same way as far as the process and the game planning and try to put the best guys in the right position to succeed. It was a nice win. We're 1-for-our-last-1. That's how I look at it, and hopefully we can get some momentum going into New York.”