Opening Day isn't quite what it used to be. For starters, the sun should be setting about 30 minutes after Marlins righty Josh Johnson throws his first pitch to the Cardinals at 7:05 p.m. Further clouding the "Opening Night" billing of tonight's game between the revamped Marlins and the defending champion Cardinals is the fact that the Major League season actually got under way last week. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics have each already lost game, splitting a two-game series in Tokyo.
Miami Marlins (0-0, NL East)
St. Louis Cardinals (0-0, NL Central)
Marlins Park, Miami
First Pitch: 7:05 p.m. EST
Marlins: Josh Johnson (right)
Cardinals: Kyle Lohse (right)
Coming off a thrilling seven-game triumph over the Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series, the Cards are facing a far more uncertain future than most reigning champs. Franchise icon and three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols left St. Louis to sign a free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Further clouding the future, longtime Cards manager Tony La Russa retired after the season, giving way to former player Mike Matheny.
Coincidentally, Matheny's last at-bat in the majors came against Johnson, who will be starting tonight for the Marlins. While Johnson will be a familiar face for Marlins fans and foes, not much else about this ballclub will look the same. Tonight's game will provide our first look at the Marlins' brand new ballpark. The home team will be sporting new uniforms, too. Also, the Marlins' front office aggressively went about improving the caliber of the players who will be wearing those new duds, signing free-agent All-Stars Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.
Will either team make an early statement tonight? Should we really be calling this "Opening Night"?
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