Cards' answer to skipper's prediction? 'A perfect demonstration'

Marmol touts bats, then celebrates first win behind three HRs, O'Neill's 5 RBIs

April 8th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- Oliver Marmol was still three hours from managing his first Major League Baseball game when he notched his first unofficial victory. The 35-year-old rookie skipper looked like the second coming of Babe Ruth when he perfectly called his shot -- predicting that the Cardinals' overlooked and underrated lineup would steal the show -- even on a day when future Hall of Famers , and were about to be showered with applause.

All St. Louis proceeded to do the rest of Opening Day -- while smashing three home runs, pounding two doubles and coaxing Pittsburgh pitchers for seven walks -- was make its young manager look like a genius. When Tyler O'Neill hit a three-run home run and drove in a career-best five runs, drew four walks and and ripped late home runs, the Cardinals rode their offense to a 9-0 shellacking of the Pirates.

A sellout crowd of 46,256 saw the Cards race to a 4-0 lead in the second inning with their power, tack on a fifth run with some small-ball maneuvering in the sixth and deliver the final blow with four more runs in the eighth.

“That was a perfect demonstration of what they’re capable of doing,” Marmol said following his first victory. “You take [Goldschmidt], for example, where as a club we’re stubborn about not leaving the [strike] zone, and he was great with that. Then, when they come in the zone, scare them back out of it.”

Pujols, one of the greatest players in franchise history from his first run in St. Louis from 2001-11, was back in a Cardinals jersey for the first time since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. Pujols, who was given several standing ovations, didn’t have a hit, but he reached twice on errors. Other than the many emotions he felt, Pujols said his biggest takeaway was the potential of the Cards' lineup.

“I saw it when we scored 29 runs in my first game in Spring Training,” Pujols said with a laugh. “The speed and the power that we have at the top of this lineup, it’s pretty much everything we can ask for. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and continue to hit like this.”

Fresh off a season where he set career highs in batting average (.286), home runs (34) and RBIs (80), O’Neill wasted no time in proving 2021 was no fluke. His hot shot back up the middle plated the Cardinals' first run of the season three batters into the game. An inning later, he hit a sinker from JT Brubaker a Statcast-projected 396 feet -- with an exit velocity of 105 mph -- for a three-run home run. O’Neill made the Pirates pay both in the first and second innings when they pitched around Goldschmidt and were forced to face his wrath with runners on base.

“We’re always confident in ourselves, we have great chemistry in the locker room, we trust the guys behind us in the lineup and we’re an offensive force,” said O’Neill, who became the first Cardinal since 1928 to have five RBIs on Opening Day.

Six Cardinals players had a hit, led by the two from O’Neill and . Newly installed leadoff hitter led off the bottom of the first with an opposite-field double and later had a sacrifice fly. The top five hitters were on base 13 times, and even No. 9 hitter Edman drilled a home run through a burst of rain late in the day. As for Goldschmidt, he was the first player since Manny Ramirez in 2002 to draw four Opening Day walks.

“I think our lineup is deeper than we get credit for, but at the same time we weren’t that great last year, so I can see why we haven’t gotten that respect we believe we should have,” said Arenado. “We have to go out and prove it. Today was a good start.”

Arenado’s words were very similar to what Marmol said three hours before the first pitch, when he predicted the Cardinals would surprise with their offensive firepower. Marmol said while much of the focus has been on St. Louis’ historic five Gold Gloves and the steady pitching of the 40-year-old Wainwright, the offense is ready to unload on opponents.

“I think we can be more of an offensive club and create an identity around that. I think that’s going to be real,” Marmol said of his expectations for the season. “I don’t think the offense is at the forefront of people’s thought in terms of what they are capable of doing. But I think we’re going to have a very powerful offense.”