Tagged: Florida

The Streak Continues! (uh, for Fish, not  Coghlan)


Fresh off their sweep of the Phillies on the road, the Marlins were back in town to kick off a four-game set with the Houston Astros Monday night at Land Shark Stadium, and to prove to themselves (and maybe the Nationals) that they are also capable of handling teams which are not in first place.
Brian Moehler was on the mound for the Astros, and the Marlins welcomed their old buddy back with open arms… and with an RBI from Jorge Cantu, a two-run double from John Baker and a sac fly from Cody Ross to take a four-run lead in the first. We missed you, Moehler.
Brian didn’t allow another run in his five innings of work, but the Marlins took the lead in the first, and wouldn’t give it up. (Aw crap, I just gave away the ending. My bad.)
It was Rick VandenHurk making the start for the Fish, and he also seemed to be making a very concerted effort to cram a complete game’s worth of pitches into five innings. Vandy didn’t have a bad start Monday night, but he didn’t necessarily make it look too easy through five innings against the Astros. Hurk managed to get through a shaky first without giving up a run, but he wasn’t as lucky in the second when, um, big-formidable-power-hitter Darin Erstad took him deep to put two runs on the board for Houston. With five hits, three walks, four K’s and two runs to his credit, Hurk was finished after five innings and 97 pitches. 
The Marlins added three runs in the sixth inning off of Astros reliever Chris Sampson, who balked in a run with the bases loaded, and then paid for several intentional walks. Sampson put Gload on base to pitch to Chris Coghlan, who answered with an RBI single, and then decided to try his luck at the strategy again by walking Nick Johnson intentionally with Hanley Ramirez on deck. It’s not often you’ll see a team choose to walk a guy to pitch to Hanley, and he showed the Astros why when he batted in his 75th run of the season. 
All eyes were on Chris Coghlan as he attempted to add on to his streak of eight consecutive multi-hit games, but while the rookie reached base three times, he only got one hit on the night. While that streak came to an end, though, the team kept their streak of double-digit hits alive for the seventh game in a row.
Headed into the ninth, the Marlins lead 8-3, and Lindstrom came in to record the final three outs of the game. Or that was the idea, anyway. Normally when a pitcher comes in to pitch the ninth with a five-run lead, it’s not considered a save situation. But I did say it was Matt Lindstrom coming in pitch, and we all know that with him, pretty much any and every situation can be considered a save (as in, he’ll probably need to be saved from the situation he gets himself into when he gives up multiple walks, hits and runs). Matty only got through 1/3 of the ninth inning, and gave up three runs–one earned. In fairness to Matt, Uggla’s error didn’t exactly help him out.

Fredi pulled Lindstrom for Leo Nunez, and Leo must have wanted to make Chris Sampson feel a little better about his rough sixth inning, so he balked in a run before recording the save for the Marlins. 

The Fish have now won four straight, and are just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the East. Hopefully they can keep the hot streak going Tuesday night as Chris Volstad takes the hill in the second game of the series. 

Let’s gain more ground, shall we? Thanks.

Interleague play totally, like, rox my sox.

sox-fish hat.JPGNo, really.

Here’s the deal: I don’t actually have a real reason to dislike Boston. I honestly don’t. But the dislike is there anyway, and try as I might to ignore it, it is presently filling my nostrils with its unpleasantly… bean-y scent.
There’s just something in me that bristles at playing this team. Maybe it’s the fans and their inability to pronounce the letter “r.” Maybe it’s the team’s history that gets on my nerves– sort of like a 16-year-old boy failing miserably to relate to a great-grandfather who spouts condescending stories about how when he was a lad, he walked barefoot through 40-foot snow drifts to get to his one-room schoolhouse where he ate lunch from a tin pail and wrote on a slate, and spent his free time splitting logs, not “tweetering on this newfangled internet.” 
Maybe it’s the fact that a Red Sox player sneezing during batting practice probably has a better chance of making SportsCenter’s highlights than a Marlins player pitching a no-no or hitting for the cycle.
Or maybe it’s simply the fact that nobody ever told anyone in Boston that the plural of “sock” is actually spelled s-o-c-k-s. I don’t know. I really don’t. But there it is. 
And so it is with a giant chip on our shoulder– the roots of which cannot be identified– that HLD&S looks ahead to these three games in Boston.

What I would LOVE to see at Fenway PaRk tonight would be something similar to what I experienced the last time the I saw the Red Sox in South Florida: A flood of 25,000 or so Marlins fans decked out in teal and black converging on the park, buying up the best (and second-best and third-best) seats in the house and banishing the Fenway Faithful to the nosebleeds where only a high-powered telescope will provide them with a half-decent view of the game, which–by the way– includes a hearty pummeling of the home team. (I’m not bitter or anything.)
Since all of the above is probably not going to happen, though, I’ll settle for a win in the series opener. Chris Volstad, a word of advice: Forget everything you have ever heard, thought, or fantasized about Fenway Park. It is merely a field on which men just like you play baseball.  Uh, sure, they may get paid more to do it. And maybe a few more people show up to their Tuesday night home games than yours. And maybe they do have the second-best record in baseball while your team sits a game under .500. And maybe… Aw, forget it.
Official HLD&S Position: Two out of three in Boston!

O Canada

cody loves canada.jpgWell I don’t know about you, but I sure am enjoying our neighbors to the North! And I’m willing to bet Cody Ross is seriously considering some kind of dual citizenship right about now… 

Cody has been on a tear since crossing the border, hitting his third grand slam of the season for the Marlins Friday night, and adding another home run and a couple doubles in Saturday’s game. And he’s not the only Fish thriving in that crisp Ontario air.

Friday night the Marlins continued to prove they’re not afraid of no Cy Young winner… Um, but just fyi Blue Jays, in this particular case that has less to do with Roy Halladay’s skills on the mound, and more to do with the fact that it’s a little hard to shake in your boots when you’re at bat staring down a pitcher who looks like he’s just been thrown up by the Easter Bunny. 
Seriously, Toronto? I really wish I could have been in on that creative meeting…
So, uniforms. Picture strong. Formidable. Intimidating. Something that will really strike fear and respect in our opponents… are you picturing it? OK, the opposite of that.” Then again, their mascot is a blue jay, so maybe intimidation was never really an option.
I’m not usually a fan of the American League, but I will say I’m definitely enjoying this whole DH thing. Now instead of having a pitcher in the lineup, we just have… well, Bonifacio. So yeah, essentially it’s the same as having a pitcher in the lineup. But at least in the AL it’s just the equivalent of one pitcher instead of two. Or none, if Fredi decides to keep Bones out of the lineup once again in the series finale Sunday afternoon. One can dream.
In closing, I’d like to share a list I’ve come up with of things that are uglier than the Blue Jays’ unis:
Official HLD&S Position: We heart Canada!

When I Snap My Fingers, You Will Wake Up and Stop Sucking…

bonerfacehypnotism.jpgEmilio Bonifacio, you are getting verrrrrrrry sleeeeepy. You are reverting back to the first week of the 2009 season, when it looked as though you sort of knew how to play baseball. You are remembering how to hit the ball– somewhere other than into the glove of a waiting fielder. You are bunting for base hits. You are batting .485 with an OBP of .899 (give or take). You are stealing multiple bases per game. You are not getting picked off of said bases due to real bad base running. You are not missing squeeze signs or failing to throw out runners with the speed of one-legged turtles. You are not striking out repeatedly. You are not having your third oh-fer in a row. You are not sucking. I repeat, you are not sucking. *snap*

Seeing Bonifacio’s name once again at the top of tonight’s lineup against the Mets, and considering how he’s been playing, it would seem that perhaps my hypnotic efforts should be directed elsewhere. Seriously, Marlins. NEXT IDEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(And now that I have publicly complained about Bones, we can expect him to go 4-for-4 with several stolen bases and maybe a home run tonight at Citi Field. You’re welcome, Fish fans.) 

I’ll take “microchance” for $400, please.

Answer: Hitting the jackpot, death by terrorist, Marlins win. 

marlins jeopardy.jpg

So close, JJ! But actually, what we were looking for is “events with a probability of 0.000001.” 
If I were Josh Johnson, I would chain myself to the mound after the seventh inning and dare Fredi to try and lift me from the game. That, or use my solid 6’7″ frame to rough up the guy who decides to come out and screw with my lead. Yesterday’s victim (were Josh a little less even-keeled) would have been Leo Nunez, who came in after seven solid innings from JJ and gave up a solo shot to Jason Bartlett, tying the score. 
I guess the guys wanted to squeeze as much drama as possible out of the homestand’s finale to make up for the fact that we had so little to cheer about over the last ten games, so on to extra innings they went. In the end it was Ross Gload who played hero to all us loss-weary fans. Gload, who scored the first run of the game, drove in the last as well, lining a walk-off single in the bottom of the eleventh, practically reducing grown men to tears of joy and relief. The Marlins avoid a sweep, and their fifth straight loss. And I avoid the need to hurl myself from a tall building.
Well, we’ve finally won, so I guess that means it’s time to get to work on another five or six-game skid. (Sorry, optimism just isn’t on the menu today, especially not as the Marlins get set to face Grandpa Moyer and the Philthies.)
5-4, Marlins.

You are all doing just a real fine job.


I’m going to try something new on this here blog. It’s a little something I like to call positive reinforcement. (Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it before. It’s a relatively new concept.) I guess I could spend the next 80 paragraphs berating the Marlins for yesterday’s loss to the D-backs–their seventh loss in the last eight games–but that isn’t exactly thinking outside the box for HLD&S. And since desperate times call for a raiding of grandma’s prescription drug stash desperate measures… positivity, here I come.

You are all doing just a real fine job. Especially you, Bonifacio. I know you had an 0-for-4 night and committed that error that helped Arizona put up a five spot in the seventh which led to them winning and us losing, but hey! Look at you go with that walk there. That was some fine effort to draw that base on balls. Good job little buddy.
Uggs, you had an RBI hit last night! That’s almost as rare as seeing a shooting star or finding a four-leaf clover these days! Plus, I read in a very reputable baseball publication recently that .192 is the new .300 (and that striking out with runners in scoring position and only one out is the new RBI hit or sacrifice).  
Hermida, you might be feeling down after an 0-for-4 night in which you killed our one hope of a rally, but the good news is, you were NUMBER ONE on the team at leaving men on base! Better than anybody else at stranding runners! Go you.
And Renyel, sure you came into the game and blew the lead for Josh Johnson and the Marlins by pitching real bad not pitching to the fullest of your highly impressive ability, but, uh…………………………………………………………………………………………………….  …………………………………….. it didn’t rain at all while you were on the mound! 
Josh, Cody, Jorge and Hanley, it may seem your efforts last night were in vain, but it was nice to have a few things to cheer about before the inevitable. Thanks for those few heartwarming moments before our hopes of a victory were once again dashed.
As for me, I am no longer looking at this as a “rough patch.” I’m choosing to see it as a “strengthening of our team’s character” patch. Instead of focusing on the fact that the Fish are now three games under .500, I choose to rejoice that we’re 18 games above .000! Things could be worse. (But, you know, feel free to not let us experience that firsthand.)

Can-TU snap this skid!!! Here’s how:

jorgexoxo.jpgThanks to two jacks by Jorge Cantu and another scoreless night for The Hopper, et. al., The Marlins ended their losing streak last night at Citi Field. After I wept tears of joy and relief, I thought of a couple ways the team could possibly turn this one win into a string of them:

1) Maybe it would be cool to not give up several runs in the first inning of every game. I heard somewhere that statistics prove it’s easier to win if you aren’t behind.
2) Scoring more than two runs is a real solid idea, especially if your opponent has scored three or more. According to the book Baseball: Minus the Numbers, “if you score more runs than your opponent in any given game involving two teams made up of ballplayers, your chances of winning are increased by a lot of percentage points or more.” 
3) Jack ball out of park. Repeat.
4) Think about not giving up seven runs in the ninth inning.
5) Consider not giving up a grand slam in innings one through nine.
6) Try not get struck on the hand by a 93-mph fastball if you are the team’s star player.
7) Bat at a slightly higher average than .034 when you’re leading off.
Just a few thoughts as Josh Johnson and Johan Santana face off in the rubber match. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments section below.

Ped Egg Park

ped egg stadium.jpgAs I’m sure you’ve heard by now, this week the Marlins released renderings of their proposed baseball-only stadium that is scheduled–pending a final vote on February 13th–to open in 2012. 

Horrified that they will soon have to scratch “your pathetic team doesn’t even have its own home” off their list of reasons to rail on Fish fans, sportswriters immediately scrambled to find fault with the proposed ballpark. The Marlins new home has since been dubbed big white spaceship, the latest scanner design from HP, bagel slicer, dark helmet, and the scrubbing bubble, among other things.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have my own thoughts on the unique design (pictured top left). But there is a stronger feeling in me than the desire to berate the Marlins for going in a slightly different direction than I would have, and that’s the overwhelming excitement that courses through me at the thought of strolling through any Marlins stadium turnstiles–not matter what shape or design– on opening day three years from now.
For the last several years I have been bracing myself for the Fish to leave South Florida. After years of repeated disappointment on the new stadium front, in my mind it has not been a matter of if as much as when. So call me crazy, but if the county and city sign off on the final agreement and Jeff Loria decides he wants to build a giant replica of a tin can in the middle of Little Havana, I will gleefully attend ball games at StarKist Stadium come 2012. 
Sorry, but I sort of liken complaining about the stadium’s design to griping that somebody has just given you a Ferrari F70 in black rather than red. Are we really going to fuss about this? OK, we probably are, but at this point I don’t care what their new house looks like, so long as it keeps them in the neighborhood. 

The Countdown is On.


(Quite literally, at marlins.com.)
If you’ve been wondering why HLD&S left a Christmas greeting up on the blog until January 30th, it’s because we are striving to give equal celebratory opportunity to both international and US holidays, and therefore decided to wait until after the Chinese new year to stop celebrating Christmas. Or, it could be because we are the type of blog that leaves its Christmas lights up on the house all year due to nothing but pure laziness, only bothering to remove them when in mid-August an irate city code officer slaps a warning on our door, threatening us with a $300 ticket if said holiday luminaries are not removed within the week. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which.
As we prepare to bid goodbye to January, I am filled with chills of excitement at the fact that one of my favorite months of the year is about to begin. So much to celebrate in the great, strangely short month of February: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, My Birthday (not quite a national holiday, but regional at the least), Fanfest, and most importantly, BASEBALL!!! In less than 48 hours I will be able to say, “SPRING TRAINING STARTS THIS MONTH.” Joy unspeakable. 
Expect new and exciting things from your (65th-)favorite Marlins blog as the season draws nearer. Like maybe blog posts that are spaced a little closer together than once every six weeks.

“Scott Olsen is My Hero”

Cub Scott.jpgNo, it will probably never be a slogan for the local chapter of Cub Scouts. But in my teal universe, where quality starts have been few and far between (1:1,000,000,000), Scott Olsen might as well be Mother Theresa right now.

7 2/3 innings pitched. Three earned runs. A break for our battle-weary bullpen. Apparently Scottie has heard my pre-season cry, and has taken matters into his own hands to grant me my wish. Of course on the night somebody in our rotation finally decides to go deeper than 1/12 of an inning into a ballgame, FSN Florida chooses not to broadcast it. So I didn’t actually get to witness the glory firsthand, but that’s not stopping me at all from basking in its warm glow. Thank you, Scott Olsen. Thank you. My firstborn will be your namesake. (Yes, I am that happy, people.)

I guess the Fish didn’t want to give us too awful much to be thrilled about last night, so our defense managed to pull another couple of errors out of their bag of tricks. In all fairness, it really wouldn’t have been a proper return from the DL for Hermida otherwise. For Jeremy, nothing says “I’m ba-ack” quite like a classic misplay of the ball. It’s almost comforting, in a way.

I’m also thinking it’s a pretty good thing Cantu‘s bat has decided to wake from its coma, mainly because our new third baseman has committed nearly half of the team’s total errors all by himself. By my calculations, we’re on pace to lead the majors in E’s this season with 150…About 60 of those will belong to Jorge. Sure, we may miss Miggy’s bat, but thank God we’ve replaced his shoddy defense at the hot corner. It’s like Larry Beinfest always says: offense may be sexy, but good defense wins ball games.

Real glad you’ve made the necessary moves in that direction, Lar.

In closing, congratulations are in order for Burke Badenhop. Not only does the young pitcher have one of the best names in baseball, he also pitched a perfect ninth inning for the Fish in his Major League debut last night. Kudos, Hop. Thanks for not suc*ing. (And please be aware that the previous writings of goodwill are likely to be retracted if we do not see six or seven innings just like that in your start Sunday. Just so you know.)