“Ace” just doesn’t seem to cut it when looking for an appropriate word to describe what Josh Johnson is as a pitcher. In fact, there may not be a descriptive enough word in any dictionary on the planet that could properly encompass the glory that is JJ and his beastly arm. So HLD&S has made one up…
Josh was on the hill for the Fish to open a three-game series with the Rockies Friday night at The Shark, and to say that he dominated would be putting it very mildly.
Through 8 1/3 innings, Josh struck out a career-high 11 batters, and had a no-hitter going until two outs in the seventh inning, when Garrett Atkins busted it up by blasting a home run, erasing the no-no and the shutout with one powerful swing of his bat.
While of course a no-hitter for JJ would have been amazing, HLD&S was not shedding too many tears once the initial sting of disappointment came and went. Johnson’s pitch count was at 98 when his no-hit bid ended, and there were 2 1/3 innings left in the game. JJ has tossed 161.1 innings this season, after logging only 87.1 innings in 2008 after his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Call it paranoia, but we’d kind of like to preserve that beautiful arm for the remainder of the season, which made what happened next a tad confusing. With Josh’s pitch count over 100, he still came back out to pitch the eighth, even though both the chance for the no-hitter and the shutout were already gone. JJ recorded an out and walked one, bringing his pitch count to 114 before he exited the game to a standing ovation from the 15,000+ in attendance.
8 1/3 innings, 11 strikeouts, and one lonely hit for Josh Johnson… You see why we’re forced to alter the English language to accommodate him?
With Jason Hammel on the mound for the Rockies, the Marlins scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings, and put another two on the board when Dan Uggla blasted a two-run shot off of Adam Eaton in the seventh. The Marlins also extended their streak of double-digit hits to eleven games, with ten hits on the night, and continue to enjoy the longest team double-digit hit streak in Major League Baseball this season. Hanley Ramirez was once again 2-for-4 on the night, which brought his personal hit streak to ten games, but Chris Coghlan saw his 12-game hitting streak come to an end after going 0-for-4 with a sacrifice.
The bullpen took over for Johnson with one out in the eight, and after Pinto recorded the remaining two outs in that inning, the Marlins continued their trend of making those last three outs as difficult–and frightening–as possible. No one was probably as nervous as Josh Johnson, who handed the Marlins a 5-run lead that they managed to whittle down to just one run, thanks in part to some bad defense with Brendan Donnelly on the mound, and a 3-run homer Leo Nunez served up to Chris Iannetta with two outs.
After the long ball, Nunez managed to close out the game and preserve Johnson’s 12th win of the season. If he hadn’t, HLD&S would be inventing even more additions to the English language today. Four-letter ones.
The Marlins are now just two games back from the Rockies for the wild card lead, but remain 4 1/2 games behind the aggravating Phillies–who are apparently recovering well from being swept by Florida, and are determined to win every single game they play for the remainder of the season.
In other news, we need a closer.