What’s that saying? It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish?
That’s just too bad for the Marlins, because if we were going purely based on “start” in their series opener against Atlanta Monday night, they’d have had the game in the bag.
(You’ve just read the short version of the recap, so if you’d rather not dwell on the depressing details of the latest Marlins loss, then be content with “it sucked,” and go find something else to do with the next two minutes of your life. However, if you’re into details and/or self-injury, by all means read on to savor the agony…)
With Florida and Atlanta all tied up in the NL East and in the Wild Card, The Fish kicked off an important four-game series Monday night at Land Shark Stadium. Josh Johnson was on the hill for the Marlins, and Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami took the mound for Atlanta. With their ace making the start, the Marlins had the perfect opportunity to gain a game on the Braves in both the division and the Wild Card.
Sadly, opportunity has to be seized, and it didn’t appear the Marlins bats were up to participating in anything remotely resembling seizure in the series opener.
JJ was on from the start, and after he handled the Braves nicely through two innings, Jorge Cantu doubled to lead off the bottom of the second. John Baker followed with a single to move Jorge to third, and Uggla hit a sac fly to score the first run of the ball game.
One run on six hits was all the Marlins would be able to shake out of Kawakami in his six innings of work, but for a while it looked as though one run might actually do the trick, since Josh Johnson was in the mood to tease us all by flirting with a no-hitter for the second time this month.
JJ took his no-no all the way until two outs in the sixth inning, when Matt Diaz finally singled to record the Braves first base hit of the game. Despite the hit, Josh made it out of the inning without incident, and the Fish maintained their lead.
For like ten minutes, anyway.
After Josh recorded two outs in the seventh, things went South. JJ’s energy seemed to fizzle out, and the final out of the inning eluded him. With two men on, Josh gave up a triple to Omar Infante that cleared the bases and gave the lead to the Braves. David Ross was the last batter JJ would face in the inning, and he singled to score Infante and put Atlanta up 3-1.
Johnson’s night ended after 6 2/3 innings, five hits, three runs and eight strikeouts. Brian Sanches recorded the last out of the seventh, but by then the damage was done, and the Fish had a two-run hole to dig themselves out of… Um, but instead of the lineup digging the Marlins out of the hole, the bullpen worked on digging aforementioned hole even deeper.
Sanches hit Diaz to open the bottom of the eighth, and intentionally walked Chipper Jones before Dan Meyer took over and gave up two straight singles to put the Braves up 5-1.
The Fish made things mildly interesting in the bottom of the ninth when Cantu doubled, and Uggla drove him in with a two-out double of his own for his second RBI of the game. But that was all the offense the team could muster on a night when the Marlins managed eight hits– none of which came from their superstar. Hanley Ramirez was 0-for-4 again, marking his third game in a row without a hit.
JJ suffered his fourth loss of the season, and a night that started with promise ended miserably for the Marlins. Suddenly, rather than lamenting the lost no-hitter, the Fish were lamenting another series-opening
loss, which set the team back farther in both the division and the Wild Card, and brought the month of August to a close at an even 14-14.
.500 baseball isn’t going to win the Wild Card, Fish.