First of all, Josh Johnson was home puking with what the rest of the team can only pray is not H1N1, and had to be scratched from his start in favor of the struggle-laden Chris Volstad. Nick Johnson was also out due to the flu, and although Jorge Cantu was in the lineup, he was feeling a little queasy himself. Cody Ross, one of the few Marlins not sitting around the clubhouse with a thermometer hanging out of his mouth, was still nursing his badly bruised wrist, and was only available to pinch run.
With all the above considered, we should have mentally prepared ourselves for the worst. But call us crazy, we still had hope the Marlins would find a way to win, and send fans home with magical, victorious memories to sustain us until April.
They did not.
Volstad wasn’t necessarily awful in the game, but he lasted only four innings, and gave up three runs to the Mets. The three runs naturally included Volstad’s signature long ball, this time a two-run shot by Jeff Francoeur in the third inning.
The truth is it wouldn’t have mattered if Volstad had gone eight innings strong, and had only given up one run to the Mets. After New York was on the board in the second, the game was over for the Fish, thanks to Pat Misch.
Misch decided to be a hero Sunday, and tossed a complete game shut out. It wasn’t as though the Marlins couldn’t touch Misch; they had eight hits and three walks off of the starter, and threatened in the first inning with men on second and third and nobody out. But they were 0-for-the-game with runners in scoring position, and were unable to put anything together through nine innings.
Sadly, as is usually the case, when one cannot score, one cannot win.
The loss eliminated the Marlins in the NL East, and put them 4 ½ back in the wild card with a mere six games left to play.
What a charming way to end the final homestand of the season.
Things looked pretty good for the Fish in the first inning Friday night as they kicked off a series against the Padres at Land Shark Stadium.
For starters, Volstad managed to restrain himself from giving up a home run, and 1-2-3 went the Padres. The fact that he made it out of the first long ball-free and run-free gave fans a teensy glimmer of hope that Chris may actually be able to pitch something that at least mildly resembled a quality start.
After the Marlins scored a run off of starter Kevin Correia in the bottom of the inning, though, we found out that Chris had merely been delaying the inevitable.
In the second, Volstad unraveled. Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled to lead off the inning, Venable singled, and then Chris pulled his trademark move and gave up a home run to Kyle Blanks to give the Padres a 3-1 lead. The long ball was Volstad’s 27th of the season.
But the joy of the second inning wasn’t over then. Things only got worse from there as the Padres scored three more runs off of Volstad before Fredi lifted him from the game. Kouzmanoff, who led off the second with a double, was the first and the last batter Volstad would face in the inning. In his second at-bat of the frame Kouzmanoff walked, and Chis’s night was over after giving up six runs to the Padres in just 1 2/3 innings, marking the shortest start of his career.
Correia, on the other hand, lasted 6 2/3 innings against the Marlins, and allowed four runs on eleven hits. The Fish threatened in the seventh when Wes Helms doubled in a run and the Marlins loaded up the bases with two out, but Ronny Paulino grounded into a force out to end the inning.
For the second night in a row the Marlins bullpen was called on to piece together a game, and once again they were unable to hold the score. Brian Sanches, Dan Meyer and Renyel Pinto each allowed a run, and stretched the Padres lead to 9-4.
In the ninth inning the Marlins put another run on the board when Ross Gload doubled and Coghlan drove him home with a single, but that’s where the scoring ended for the Fish. Helms grounded into his second double play of the night, and Cantu made the final out to end the game.
If you’re looking for anything positive to take away from the game, the good news is the Marlins only gave up 9 runs and 16 hits Friday, which is at least a small improvement over the 17-hit, 10-run effort from the Marlins’ pitching staff Thursday night.
Chris Volstad and Gaby Sanchez were optioned to AAA after the game to make room for some fresh arms. After that, we’re going to need some.
It’s unfortunate that quality starting pitching is a requirement for making the post-season.
We found out pretty quickly.
It seems Chris wanted to get the obligatory home runs out of the way early so he wouldn’t have to worry about them the rest of the game. And that might have been a good strategy, had Volstad held the Braves to a single long ball and kept runners off of base in the meantime.
He didn’t. In the Braves’ first at-bat, Omar Infante hit his second home run of the season to give Atlanta a one-run lead. After a walk to Kelly Johnson and an RBI single to Adam LaRoche, Yunel Escobar took a turn going deep against Volstad as well, and the Braves were up 4-0 after one inning.
Volstad “settled down” after the first, but he was done after just four innings, having put in a pretty weak performance with six hits, two walks, and four runs–three of which came courtesy of the long ball.
Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson clearly didn’t want to be outdone by Anibal Sanchez’s performance Friday night, and so while Volstad continued his habit of being taken deep repeatedly, the Braves starter flirted with a no-hitter for 5 1/3 innings.
The no-hitter lasted until Jeremy Hermida came to bat with one on and two out in the top of the fifth, and busted it up on a single to center. Hermida’s hit opened the proverbial floodgates for the Marlins…or at least, you know, cracked them a little. Wes Helms followed with a two-out double that scored Baker, who had walked to open the inning. Then Jorge Cantu pinch-hit for Chris Volstad and singled to drive in Hermida and Helms to make it a one-run game.
And a one-run game is where it remained.
The Marlins bullpen worked out of a few jams to hold Atlanta to their four first-inning runs, but Hanson held the Fish to three runs through seven innings, and the Braves ‘pen closed it out as the Marlins dropped game two at Turner Field.
Chris Volstad is going to have to get over his home run fetish. May we suggest hypnotherapy?
Not that I would have been able to see a sign of any kind from where I was sitting as the Marlins took on the Astros in game two of the series at Land Shark Stadium. I’m not complaining, though, because while I missed a good 90% of what happened on the field, I did have a charming view of the backs of several strangers who were–quite literally–on the edge of their seats the entire game.
Tell me again why we didn’t need to use eleventy billion taxpayer dollars to build an actual baseball facility for the Marlins? Exactly. (HLD&S’s stellar sight lines pictured top left. Please read the following recap with that view of the game in mind.)
Chris Volstad seemed sharp to start the game, and pitched fairly well through four innings, but that’s where the good news about his outing ends… Unless you count as good news the fact that he didn’t give up a home run for the first start in a long while. I personally don’t, seeing as the Astros didn’t have a need to go deep, since Chris seemed happy enough to give up half-a-dozen runs to the team the old-fashioned way.
In the top of the fifth, Volstad suddenly forgot how to throw strikes, and before he could record the third out of the inning, Houston had scored five runs to give the them a 6-2 lead over the Fish. 4 2/3 innings, eight hits, three walks and six runs were what we enjoyed from Chris before the bullpen took over in the game. Fantastic.
One bad inning from Volstad may have been all it took to put the Fish in a hole, but thankfully one bad inning from Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt was all it took for the Marlins to begin to claw their way out of it. Oswalt, much like Volstad, pitched well to start, but he gave up four runs in the sixth on four straight hits and two bases-loaded walks to bring the Fish within a run.
Down by one in the seventh, John Baker, who also had an RBI single in the sixth, hit a two-run double to give the Marlins the lead.
With the Fish up 8-7, Leo Nunez headed out of the bullpen to pitch the ninth, and I pleaded with him to give us a 1-2-3 inning. He ignored me, of course (because it just wouldn’t be a Marlins game without somebody giving up runs in the ninth inning, now would it?). Leo gave up three straight hits, including an RBI single to Geoff Blum to tie the game.
Renyel Pinto and Brian Sanches pitched scoreless 10th and 11th innings respectively, and then the collective yawns of the home crowd signaled to the boys that it was time to end this thing.
Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson drew walks to open the bottom of the eleventh, but things didn’t look too promising for the Fish when Jorge Cantu and Wes Helms both struck out. But then John Baker drew a walk, and Dan Uggla, who was 3-for-5 in the game, came through with his first walk-off hit of the season. Dan’s single scored Coghlan, and gave the Marlins their fifth win in a row.
The Fish not only extended their win streak Tuesday night, they also added an eighth game to their double-digit hit streak, and pulled within 2 games of the National League wild card lead.
Sounds like it was a good game. Would have been lovely to see it.
The Marlins have just been swept by the Nationals.
If you want to know all the gory details, unfortunately you’ll have to look elsewhere, as the cocktail of prescription narcotics that I downed to ease the pain of this series have really clouded my memory of the afternoon’s events.
I do seem to recall that things started out splendidly for the Fish on Thursday in the series finale at Nationals Park. The Marlins scored two runs in the first and another 4 in the second, and chased starter Craig Stammen after just 1 2/3 innings.
That provided a comfy six-run cushion for Chris Volstad, who held the Nats scoreless through three before he decided he was no longer a fan of prosperity. Chris gave up three runs in the fourth inning, and after John Baker hit a two-run shot in the top of the inning, Vols proceeded to give up another four runs in the fifth–thanks in part to the obligatory long ball and a costly error by Jorge Cantu. That was the end of Volstad’s afternoon.
So the Marlins saw a 6-0 lead evaporate Thurdsday, and things just went downhill from there. Or, things had already gone downhill, so they decided to dig a tunnel to the center of the earth and continue the ride.
The Fish were clinging to an 8-7 lead in the seventh when at some point (I was barely conscious by then) Fredi got tossed for arguing balls and strikes. Brian Sanches gave up a home run to Elijah Dukes to tie up the game. Then Luis Ayala gave up four runs in the eighth, one of which was balked in by Brendan Donnelly. And this is where I lose the will to live er, to recap this game.
The whole “sweep-avoidance” thing didn’t turn out so well for the Marlins as they lost their third straight game in our nation’s capital. The Fish are now seven games behind the Phillies as they head to Philadelphia, and while there are 54 games left in the season, this series definitely begs the question: are any of the remaining games even going to matter?
Sorry. If you’re looking for optimism today, you stopped at the wrong blog.