Before the game, Dexter Fowler wrote “I will get a hit” 13 times in a tweet

Fowler hit his 24th career leadoff home run and his first homer of the season on the first pitch from Chase Anderson. Two pitches later, Pham drove a 1-0 pitch to center to make it 2-0.

“It’s a little overblown because it’s the beginning of the season,” Fowler said. “Everybody in this clubhouse has gone through a stretch like that, but it’s good … especially with an RBI.” Fowler had gone 0-for-13 with six strikeouts through the Cardinals’ first three games, but he was feeling confident Monday morning that the streak would end, tweeting out a message that repeated “I will get a hit” 13 times.

Opening Day comes early this year, with the Cardinals beginning regular-season play in New York on March 29. That’s four days earlier than last year, part of a league-wide schedule designed to give teams more off-days during the year. “It’s crazy,” Fowler said. “That’s how the game ends, though. You see the strangest things in this game. That’s why you keep playing it.”

Mahle couldn’t keep St. Louis down in the sixth, with four straight hits to begin the inning. led off with a homer to the first row of seats in right field. Ozuna’s RBI single scored Tommy Pham and Molina’s two-run single made it 5-0 and ended the right-hander’s night. Like in his previous start at Pittsburgh on Sunday, the third time through the opponent’s lineup did Mahle in.

Fowler played just once in the team’s past three games due to a quadriceps injury, mlb jerseys cheap and he went 0-for-4 in a loss Saturday. Fowler is batting .245 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs in his first season with the Cardinals. When Dexter Fowler debuted in the big leagues with the Rockies in 2008, the 22-year-old brought a speed element to a unit flanked by corner outfielders Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe.

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Over dinner early this offseason in Las Vegas, where Fowler lives, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak informed him of the club’s plans to shift him to right. Fowler didn’t initially know the reason for Mozeliak’s visit. As they sat down to eat, Fowler’s wife, Aliya, pressed the executive.

Cardinals #25 Dexter Fowler White Home Women's Stitched MLB Jersey
Cardinals #25 Dexter Fowler White Home Women’s Stitched MLB Jersey

Weaver had a lead because the Cardinals’ offense wrapped double-digit hits for the second straight day. Dexter Fowler’s home run to lead off the sixth started a string of four straight Cardinals to reach against Mahle, who battled out of a bases-loaded jam an inning prior. Would the Cubs be faring better offensively with Fowler? It’s impossible to say, but one thing is for sure: The Cubs lost some leaders from their championship team, and Fowler was one of those. Despite the losses, Maddon defended his group recently. He believes they have enough in the clubhouse to turn things around.

By the end of the meal, Fowler was on board — as long as he didn’t have to switch positions midseason, he said. Fowler has just one inning of big league experience in right field, though he played there occasionally in high school and as a prospect in the Arizona Fall League. “I can catch a fly ball,” said Fowler, who added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason. “I feel like [switching] can save my legs a little bit, probably help me through the rest of my career. Maybe play five or six more years.”

More than any production Fowler might or might not have provided, it is what he represents that has been missed the most by the Cubs. He was the face of a runaway juggernaut, a team that won 200 games over two seasons, plus a World Series. Fowler embodied the Cubs’ swagger from the second half of 2015 that carried over for the entirety of the following season. At the moment, they no longer have that.

Cubs president Theo Epstein and Close stayed in touch throughout the offseason after Fowler turned down the Cubs’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer. But Fowler said another deal to his liking never came about with another team. After he started playing deeper, Fowler started having positive Defensive Runs Saved ratings on deep plays. This makes sense on one hand, but Maddon had another point.