Can-TOO Win Another One for the Fish…

GameFish is now a regular blogger for Marlins fan blog FishStripes. Read her game recaps and thoughts on the 2010 season there.

___________________________________________________________________________

For the second day in a row, Jorge Cantu was the Marlins difference between a win and a loss.

Does anyone want to stop right here and imagine what the Marlins record would look like if Cantu weren’t in the lineup? Me either.

Anibal Sanchez made his first start of the season Sunday in the series finale with the Dodgers. He lasted six innings against LA, and gave up five runs (4 earned) with a little help from the Marlins less-than-s
tellar defense.

In the top of the fourth, Anibal ran into trouble. He gave up three straight singles, the last of which skipped by Maybin in center field and allowed Belliard to take third base. Anibal followed up Maybin’s error with an RBI triple to Reed Johnson, who also ended up scoring on a squeeze play to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Cody Ross committed the Marlins second error of the game, and tenth of the young season, when he dropped a fly ball in right, allowing a run to score.

But the sloppy defense and 5 Dodger runs weren’t the bad news for the Marlins, it was Charlie Haeger and his frikkin’ knuckleball. Haeger baffled Florida’s bats through six innings, striking out a career high 12, and allowing just three hits to the Fish. Through the first three innings, Anibal Sanchez was the only Marlin to manage a hit off of Haeger, when he singled on a line drive to center field.

In the fourth inning, though, Jorge Cantu decided he’d had enough of Haeger and his knuckleball, and launched one of them into the center field seats. The three-run shot made it six straight games that Jorge has had an RBI. 

But he wasn’t finished yet. An RBI single from Cody Ross brought the Marlins within a run in the sixth, and Jorge followed in the seventh with a two-run double. Cantu’s five RBI matched his career high, and put the Fish in the lead, 6-5. 

Even after Cantu’s heroics, a win seemed unlikely as the bullpen took over for Sanchez, with only a teensy little one-run lead to work with. But, in an earth-shattering turn of events, two relievers not named Burke Badenhopmanaged to pitch scoreless innings. Clay Hensley didn’t allow a run in the seventh and eighth, and Leo Nunezcame in to close things down in the ninth.

Of course, it just wouldn’t have been a Marlins game, or an inning pitched by Nunez, if things didn’t get a little interesting, so Leo walked the leadoff batter and gave up a single to put runners at the corners before he got the final out of the game.

Despite bullpen drama and some really crummy defense since opening Day, the Marlins have taken their first two series of the season.

Hip-Hip Jorge!

Marlins 6, Dodgers 5

SUPER Saturday

GameFish is now a regular blogger for Marlins fan blog FishStripes. Read her game recaps and thoughts on the 2010 season there.

___________________________________________________________________________

What a crazy night at Sun Life Stadium.

It was the first Super Saturday of the season, and the Marlins sent their ace Josh Johnson to the mound to make quick work of that annoying 9-inning thingy that fans are forced to sit through before they can enjoy the true meaning of baseball, which–as all purists know–is fireworks and a Nelly concert.

JJ was on the mound vs. Vicente Padilla, and Josh didn’t look particularly ace-like in his second start of the season. He tossed 93 pitches through five innings, and gave up three runs on eight hits, walked three and struck out seven. Josh seemed to run into trouble repeatedly, and it finally caught up with him in the fourth when theDodgers put up three runs on an RBI single from Matt Kemp, a sacrifice from Manny Ramirez and an RBI double from Casey Blake.

The Fish got on the board in the first when Hanley doubled down the left field line to score Maybin, who had singled in his first at-bat. They didn’t accomplish much more against Padilla until the fourth inning, when Gaby Sanchez put the Marlins back in business with his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to give the Fish a 4-3 lead.

LA’s bullpen took over for Padilla with one out in the fifth, and for a while made Fish fans just a little jealous of the fans wearing Dodger blue. Jeff WeaverRamon Ortiz and Ramon Troncoso held the Fish scoreless through the eighth. Outs? Holds? Scoreless innings? We didn’t think anyone but the Hopper could make those happen.

JJ left the game after the fifth with a one-run lead and in line for the win, though nobody sane expected him to actually end up with it, considering our bullpen so far this season. If anybody could make it happen, though, it was Burke Badenhop, and the Marlins held onto
their lead as Burke tossed two scoreless innings in relief.

Unfortunately, there is only one Hopper, and he can’t pitch every inning (though I have written several strongly-worded letters to Fredi this week, suggesting that very thing), so it was time for the obligatory bullpen melt-down.

Tim Wood gave up a hit and a walk to open the eighth inning. Dan Meyer replaced him and gave up a two-run single to Andre Ethier that gave the Dodgers the lead, and Veras rounded out the sucktitude when he gave up a long home run to Kemp in the top of the ninth to put the Dodgers up 6-4.

But the Marlins weren’t quite ready to admit defeat. I mean, it was Super Saturday after all.

The Fish staged a comeback in the bottom of the ninth when Gaby Sanchez singled off of Troncoso to open the inning. Then Sherrill came into the game for LA and hit Wes Helms with a pitch and walked Chris Coghlan to load the bases. Ronny Paulino pinch hit for Cameron Maybin and hit a 2-run double to tie up the game. 

In a move he may now regret, Sherrill walked Hanley intentionally to pitch to Jorge Cantu. The Dodgers clearly hadn’t heard about that whole get-an-rbi-in-every-game-of-the-season thing that Jorge’s got going right now, but he happily let them in on it. With a sac fly to center that scored Coghlan, Cantu made it five straight games with an RBI, and the Marlins won their very first Super Saturday game in walk-off fashion.

I think Jorge summed it up best in a post-game interview when he said “we like a little drama.”

So it would seem.

Marlins 7, Dodgers 6

Marlins 2010 Home Opener

GameFish is now a regular blogger for FishStripes. You can read her game recaps and other thoughts on the 2010 Marlins there.

__________________________________________________________________________

It was a promising night for the Marlins Friday as they opened their first home series of the season at Sun Life Stadium in front of 40,666 fans–the largest home opener since 2005.

Volstad was on and dealing through six innings. He allowed just two hits and one walk to the Dodgers, and at one point retired 11 in a row. With Chris on his game, it seemed that the most abysmal aspect of the evening might prove to be Scott Stapp butchering the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner.

Of course, that was before the late-inning sloppy defense and shaky bullpen made their scheduled appearance.

Not many people had expected a pitchers duel going into the game, but Hiroki Kuroda was dealing as well, and put on a nice show through eight innings. He gave up just five hits and a walk, and struck out seven. The lone run Kuroda allowed came courtesy of Jorge Cantu, who has had an RBI in all four games the Marlins have played this season. In the bottom of the sixth, Cantu singled to score Cameron Maybin and give the Marlins a 1-0 lead.

Vols ran into some trouble in the seventh when Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake both doubled to tie the game. Blake DeWitt followed with a single that put the Dodgers in the lead, and with one out, Chris handed the ball over to the bullpen.

Unfortunately, Hopper was  not available.

Clay Hensley came on in relief of Chris, and it seemed as though things picked up right where they left off on Wednesday night. Hensley promptly loaded the bases, and Hanley committed a costly error when he fielded a ground ball from Reed Johnson and tried to get the force out at second. He ended up throwing the ball into right field instead, which allowed two runs to score and gave the Dodgers a three-run lead.

Next up out of the pen was Jose Veras. He miraculously escaped the eighth without giving up a run, but did commit the Marlins second error in as many innings when he lobbed the ball into center field on a pick-off attempt at second base. In the ninth, Veras walked one and gave up a double before he was lifted from the game.

When Renyel Pinto came out of the bullpen, he was met with a chorus of boos from Fish fans who clearly weren’t ready to forget Wednesday’s meltdown in New York. In response, Pinto served up a double to James Loney, and (naturally) both of his inherited runners scored. Manny Ramirez singled on a pop-up that Gaby couldn’t get to, and put the Dodgers up 7-1 before the inning was over.

The Marlins did try to stage a bit of a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Wes Helms had a 2-run pinch hit double–his 45th pinch hit with the Marlins–which established a new franchise record. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. 

Jonathan Broxton finished off the Fish, striking out Chris Coghlan and Cameron Maybin to end the game, and the Marlins dropped their home opener. 

If games only lasted six innings, the Fish might have a perfect record right now.

Behind Robertson, Hopper, Fish Take the Citi

GameFish is now blogging regularly for FishStripes. Read her game recaps and thoughts on the 2010 Marlins season there.
___________________________________________________________________________

The Marlins were going for the series win against the Mets Thursday night at Citi Field, and after two straight games of ugly, fans were hoping for a nice, neat, disaster-free win. You know, one that didn’t induce massive strokes and brain hemorrhages and stuff. 

It was a battle of lefties as Nate Robertson made the start vs. Jon Niese, and Robertson had a decent night in his season debut for the Marlins. He went five innings and allowed just one run on an RBI double to Jeff Francoeur in the fourth. Nate threw 94 pitches and gave up six hits, struck out four and didn’t issue a walk. 
Neise lasted six innings against the Marlins, and gave up three runs on eight hits. The Fish grabbed an early lead in the first on an RBI single from Dan Uggla, and RBI doubles by Jorge Cantu and Gaby Sanchez in the fifth and sixth gave the Marlins a 3-1 lead. 
Once Nate’s night was over, heartrates state-wide skyrocketed as it was time to go to the bullpen. Wednesday’s implosion was still fresh in the minds of Fish fans, and this time the pen had just a 2-run lead to work with, as opposed to the six-run lead the pen blew the night before. 
Mommy. Hold me. 
Luckily, it was Burke Badenhop who got the call. The Hopper decided to go against the recent trend of Marlins middle relievers, and so, rather than walking multiple guys and blowing the lead, Hop tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Robertson. He allowed just one hit and struck out two. 
If Fredi had put it to a vote, the majority of Fish fans would probably have been in favor of letting Burke attempt a 4-inning save. But instead, though he tossed 40 pitches in Wednesday’s fiasco, Leo Nunez came out to pitch the ninth. (Insert lame comment about getting back on the horse or whatever here.) 
Leo must have been inspired by The Hopper’s three scoreless innings, because he made quick work of things, recording the save with a 1-2-3 inning. 
I’m not sure how the post-game pep talk went on Wednesday night, but whatever it was, it worked. Because after issuing nine free passes in Wednesday’s game, the Marlins pitchers didn’t allow a single base on balls in the series finale. 
The Fish have taken their first series of 2010, and are headed home.
Marlins 3, Mets 1

Save the Game, Wood You?

GameFish is now blogging regularly for FishStripes. You can check out her game recaps and thoughts on the 2010 Marlins there.
___________________________________________________________________________

It’s not every day a pitching staff coughs up a 6-1 lead, walks nine, balks in a run, and still walks away with a victory. 

Apparently Wednesday was not every day. 

The Marlins were back in action at Citi Field for game two of their series with the Mets, and after the disaster also referred to as Opening Day, I think the goal in mind for almost everyone on the team was “do the opposite of what I did on Monday.” 
That strategy worked through six innings. 
The Marlins lineup fared much better against John Maine than they did against Johan Santana. They tagged him for four runs in five innings, and between Maine and the Mets bullpen, the rest of the bats came out of hibernation. 
Cantu was the first Fish to drive in a run this season, and he also became the first to go deep, homering off of Maine in the third inning. Hanley and Uggla added solo shots of their own, and every Marlins position player had at least one hit in the game. 
In his first start of 2010, Ricky was “splendid” (to borrow Rich Waltz’s favorite adjective), and allowed three runs on 3 hits, walked 3, and struck out 5 Mets. It was also encouraging, after a rough go of things Monday, to see the Fish fielding their positions a little more neatly than they did on Opening day. 
Things were going charmingly well, the season opener was being chalked up to rust and jitters, and with a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, most fans had penciled in a “W” for Ricky and the Fish. 
And then the rest of the game happened. 
Ricky ran out of gas in the seventh. He walked off the mound with one on, two out, and a comfortable four-run lead, and thus the game became one giant blur of badness. 
Renyel Pinto came in for Ricky, but rather than record the final out of the inning, he gave up a hit, struck a batter to load up the bases, and then walked in a run before he was replaced by Jose Veras. 
Veras didn’t fare much better than Pinto on the mound. His very first pitch was a wild, high fastball that got away from Baker and very nearly allowed a run to score. He managed to escape the seventh inning without allowing a run, but in the eighth Jose gave up two hits, walked two, and was tagged with three runs. 
Then it was Leo Nunez who came in with two out in the 8th to attempt a 4-out save of the game, but what he accomplished instead was to walk two batters, balk in the tying run, and blow the save. 
The defense also seemed to take its cue from the relievers, and got sloppy again after Ricky left the game. Uggla committed a throwing error trying to turn a double play, and Chris Coghlan inexplicably airmailed a throw to home plate that could have produced disastrous results. 
By all accounts the Fish deserved to lose the game. But in the top of the 10th against Takahashi, Wes Helms singled, a sac bunt from Cogz moved him to second, and Ronny Paulino drove in Uncle Wes with a pinch hit single to reclaim the lead for the Fish. 
With only a one-run lead to work with, Tim Wood did what our closer could not– he came into the game and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and recorded the very first save of his Major League career to even the Marlins record, and the series. 
Whew. 
Pat yourselves on the back, Fish fans. You’ve just survived your very first bullpen implosion of the season.
Marlins 7, Mets 6

Opening Day 2010 (aka Whoa, Ugly)

GameFish is now blogging regularly for FishStripes, so you can check out her game recaps and thoughts on the 2010 Florida Marlins there.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Ah, sweet Opening Day. Is there anything better? Sun shining brightly, birds chirping gleefully, the smell of peanuts and cracker jack wafting through the fresh spring air… or at least that’s what you’d imagine opening day to be like, if you weren’t stuck in a cubicle at your place of employment, reloading Gameday audio 12,042 times while simultaneously researching where to purchase an atomic bomb with which to obliterate MLB.tv tech support. 

[Deep cleansing breath.] 
Luckily, when the Marlins opened their season against the Mets at Citi Field Monday, they gave us Fish fans a few reasons to be glad that it’s hard to find a way to be in front of a television at 1:10 in the afternoon. Sure, it promised to be a good match-up with Marlins ace Josh Johnson starting against Johan Santana, but things didn’t exactly unfold that way. (Not that I saw how any of it did unfold, but I got to watch those little cartoon-y figures on MLB Gameday, which we all know is practically the same as being there live.) 
JJ lasted just five innings in his season debut, and gave up four runs on five hits, walked four, and put the Marlins in an early hole on a two-run shot to David Wright in the bottom of the first. 
The Fish, meanwhile, couldn’t get much of anything accomplished against Santana, who–despite the many hopes of every non-Mets fan in existence–did not miraculously forget how to pitch during the off-season. (I, for one, intend to return my voodoo dolls to the manufacturer for a full refund of the purchase price, less shipping and handling.) 
The Marlins managed a meager four hits off of Santana in his six innings of work. They finally got on the board in the sixth on an RBI double by Jorge Cantu that scored Chris Coghlan, but that was the last of the good news for Florida. 
Things got sloppy for the Marlins as the bullpen took over in the sixth. The Mets scored four times, and Clay Hensley, Dan Meyer and Gaby Sanchez all committed errors in the half inning. Hensley–whose current ERA is 27.00, which is fun to say–gave up two runs to the Mets in his Marlins debut, and Tim Wood allowed a run in the seventh to make the score 7-1. 
Aside from 2-for-4 afternoons from Hanley and Gaby, it was a sloppy, forgettable game that definitely didn’t leave Fish fans with warm, fuzzy feelings to kick off the regular season. 
The good news is, we get to try this 161 more times. 
Marlins 1, Mets 7

Peace Out, Alejandro

de aza.jpgJoe Frisaro, et. al. report that the White Sox claimed outfielder Alejandro De Aza off waivers today: 

“The White Sox on Wednesday claimed De Aza off waivers.
At Triple-A New Orleans, De Aza batted .300 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs. He also appeared in 22 games for the Marlins, and he had 20 at-bats, batting .250 with a double and three RBIs…
The Marlins are projecting Cameron Maybin will be their Opening Day center fielder. The team also has Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Coghlan in left field.” 

And let’s not forget about another possible beneficiary of the dearly departed De Aza: one Brett Carroll, who at the very least must grin inwardly any time there is news of the trimming down of the Marlins’ plethora of outfielders. 
It would have been nice to see what De Aza was capable of had he not managed to mangle himself each and very time he was given an opportunity to play. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Hopefully he has better luck in Chicago.