Fowler, Carpenter link up quickly in opener

New acquisition scores on first baseman's sacrifice fly, home run

Fowler, Carpenter link up quickly in opener

JUPITER, Fla. -- After watching two key pieces in the Cardinals' new-look lineup thrive in their role, the club is hopeful that first impressions create a lasting one.

Dexter Fowler didn't put a ball in play in his organizational debut, but as the team's new leadoff hitter, he drew two walks and scored after each in St. Louis' 8-7 loss to Miami. Behind him, Matt Carpenter, who vacated that leadoff spot upon Fowler's arrival, tallied three RBIs from the third spot in the batting order, which is likely where he will settle once the season starts.

"You look at the at-bats that he put together and stealing the base, just the threat alone that he puts on the bases and the ability to create runs in that fashion, it's got a chance to be really special," Carpenter said of Fowler's influence. "I think you saw a small glimpse of that today, and hopefully that will continue and carry over as we progress through spring and all the way into the season."

A team seeking to become more versatile than last season's power-hitting bunch showcased an ability to score in different ways. After drawing a walk to open the game, Fowler stole second, moved to third on a flyout and scored on Carpenter's sacrifice fly.

Fowler's steal in the 1st inning

"The way we manufactured that run in the first inning was key," Fowler said. "If we can do that, we'll win a lot of games."

After Fowler walked again in the third, Carpenter drove a pitch over the right-field wall for the Cardinals' first spring home run.

Carpenter's two-run home run

Carpenter, who had been the team's primary leadoff hitter since 2013, intends to bring his leadoff approach to a run-production spot in the order. And why wouldn't he? He had the team's highest on-base percentage (.380) and slugging percentage (.505) last season, and has more doubles over the last four years (168) than anyone in the Majors.

Furthermore, Carpenter believes he can be an even better hitter simply from watching the player who is in his former spot.

"This is the first time that I've been able to see a guy who, I feel like, is really close to me in terms of the way we go about our at-bats," Carpenter said of Fowler. "It's going to be a huge advantage to see how [pitchers] approach him, what he's taking, how they're trying to get him out. That just gives me that much more info before I go up there."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.