The last time Ricky Nolasco was on the mound, he sucked. There’s just no other way to categorize what was essentially the worst start of Ricky’s career– a 3 1/3 inning outing in which he allowed 10 runs and single-handedly snapped the Marlins 5 game win streak with his horrific pitching.
With that in mind, Fish fans were a bit nervous as Ricky took the mound to kick off a three-game series with the Astros–the same team that beat the crap out of him in his last start–Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Apparently Nolasco was looking to make it up to the Marlins. Or, maybe he just knew he needed to do something extremely noteworthy on the mound so that his start wouldn’t be overshadowed by the team’s double-digit hit streak, which was up to 13 games heading into Tuesday’s contest. Either way, mission accomplished as Ricky turned in a performance that was the polar opposite of his last, and dazzled us all by throwing the second (9-inning) complete game of his career. 80 of Ricky’s 115 pitches were for strikes, and he walked nobody, struck out ten, gave up three hits and allowed just two runs in his nine innings of work.
The game didn’t get off to a great start, and let’s just be honest–it scared us. Nolasco gave up a home run to Carlos Lee in the first inning, right after Lance Berkman doubled. After the dinger, though, Ricky simply shrugged his shoulders and was all like, “it’s cool,” and proceeded to retire 23 straight batters, and allowed just one more hit over the next eight innings.
The offense, meanwhile, thought it would be a good idea to provide some run support for the dealing Nolasco, and try to steal a little bit of his thunder by hitting in the double-digits for the 14th game in a row. The Marlins had 11 hits on the night, and became the first team to have a string of 14 games with ten or more hits since the St. Louis Browns logged 15 in a row way back in 1937. Hanley Ramirez also kept his personal streak alive as he was 3-for-5, and extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
Dan Uggla hit a solo shot off of Astros Starter Bud Norris in the fourth inning to tie up the game, and then the Marlins had a little fun with Buddy in the sixth. The Fish batted around as Cantu homered, Hermida hit an RBI single, and Chris Coghlan drew a bases-loaded walk to gain a three-run lead over Houston, and end the night for Norris before three outs could be recorded in the inning.
Hermida, who was 3-for-4 on the night, was the third Marlin of the game to go deep when he capped off the scoring on a solo shot in the 8th, stretching the Marlins lead to four runs.
The Fish have now won 9 of their last 11, but since the Rockies and Phillies refuse to lose, they remain two games back of the Wild Card lead, and 4 1/2 games back in the NL East.
Official HLD&S Position: We heart Ricky Nolasco. Uh, the one who pitches complete games and wins and stuff.