Tagged: John Baker

Consider the Curse Reversed

Man_Jump_for_Joy.jpgAnother pitchers duel was in order for the Marlins and Reds as they faced off in game two of their series Friday night at the Great American Ball Park. 

Rick VandenHurk was on the Hill for the Marlins, and had a great night as he allowed just one run on four hits in six strong innings of work. It was too bad for Vandy that Homer Bailey went one better and tossed seven scoreless innings, and allowed just three hits to the Fish, taking away Hurk’s chance at the W. 

One measly run was all the offense to speak of until the eighth inning, when the Reds scored an insurance run off of Brendan Donnelly. With closer Francisco Cordero coming in to pitch the ninth, it seemed that the Marlins would go quietly for their tenth loss in a row at the Great American Ball Park. 
Only they didn’t. 

The Fish rallied in the ninth. Coghlan led off the inning by reaching base on what was ruled an error, but was actually a base hit (we promise). Hanley Ramirez singled with one out, and Jorge Cantu drove in Coghlan to put the Fish on the board. Dan Uggla’s ground out scored Hanley, and Baker blooped a single into left to score Cantu and give the Fish the lead. After a single from Cody Ross, Jared Burton came out of the bullpen to replace Cordero.

Burton promptly gave up an RBI double to Brett Carroll, and the Marlins took a 4-2 lead. 

It was up to Leo Nunez (gulp) to shut down the Reds in the bottom half of the ninth, and given Leo’s affinity for the home run, and considering the tiny confines of the GABP, that was no small task. 
Naturally, Nunez gave up a long ball to pinch hitter Juan Francisco to lead off the bottom of the ninth and to put the Reds within a run. But that was all for the Reds, and Leo struck out two and closed it out for his 23rd save of the season. 
Brett Carroll’s RBI double ended up being the difference in the game, and for the first time since 2006, the Fish won a game in Cincinnati

Join us in a Victory dance, won’t you??!! 

Fish Win with a Baker’s Dozen

bakers dozen.jpg

Well the starting pitching wasn’t anything to write home about, but the Fish made up for it behind 13 hits and a big night from John Baker to keep their win streak alive. 
The Marlins jumped on Garrett Mock for six runs in the first three innings as the Marlins and Nationals kicked off a weekend series in DC. 
Jorge Cantu hit a two-run shot in the first inning, and John Baker followed with a two-run homer of his own in the third. But the Nationals answered back and scored three in the second inning, including two on an RBI triple from Alberto Gonzalez. Washington added two more runs when Josh Willingham went deep in the third, and West’s outing was cut short after just three innings. 
West gave up five runs on seven hits in his three lackluster innings of work, and allowed all five of his runs after two outs had been recorded. But it was no biggie for the Fish, seeing as Burke Badenhop is back in the bullpen… Or out of it, rather. The Marlins long reliever extraordinaire did his thing and tossed three scoreless innings of one-hit ball in relief of West, despite the best effort of the Marlins defense to put a few runs on the board for the Nats. But Hop pitched around the mistakes, and got out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the fifth inning to preserve the lead for the Marlins.
Saul Rivera didn’t fare as well as Hop in long relief, and the Marlins scored another three runs, including RBI singles from John Baker in the fifth and sixth innings.
Baker had three of the Marlins 13 hits in the game, and drove in nearly half the Marlins runs himself, finishing the night with four RBI. Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu each drove in two runs for the Fish, and Nick Johnson had an RBI hit as well.
Other than one run allowed by Matt Lindstrom in the eighth, the Marlins bullpen shut down the Nats after a disappointing night for Sean West. Leo Nunez closed it down in a scoreless ninth, and the Fish won their third game in a row, post-clubhouse fight. (Yes, HLD&S will continue to give credit for the win-streak to the feud, until someone can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the two are unrelated.)
HLD&S would like to issue a public apology for the myriad mistakes that likely overrun the above recap. We were slightly distracted by the pathetic display Ohio State put on against Navy, and cannot be responsible for any misinformation garnered from this blog. 

Consider the Series Salvaged

sean-west45.jpgSweep-avoidance mode is pretty much our least-favorite place on earth to be, but that was exactly where the Marlins found themselves Sunday afternoon as they took on the Padres in the series finale at Land Shark Stadium.

After three straight losses and some pretty lackluster starting pitching, the Fish needed a win, and badly. 
It was up to Sean West to try and reverse the trend of real bad pitching and put an elusive W on the board for the Marlins, if only to bring a little life back to the far-fetched idea that the Fish might actually catch the Phillies/Rockies/Giants and make the post season (optimism is what we do here at Hook, Line Drive, & Sinker).
Sean looked pretty good and held the Padres scoreless through three, but San Diego got on the board in a sloppy fourth inning for the Marlins defense. A single and an RBI double put the Padres up 1-0 before a throwing error from West and a passed ball by Baker allowed two unearned runs to score and give the Padres a 3-0 lead. 
It seemed the Fish were in for yet another disappointing afternoon. While West was suddenly shaky, Mat Latos hadn’t allowed a hit to the Marlins through his first three innings pitched. But in the bottom of the fourth, the bats decided to make up for lost time. After two singles and a walk to load the bases, John Baker singled to drive in two runs. Then the Fish loaded them up again for Cody Ross, who singled to plate another two runs. A throwing error allowed the fifth run of the inning to score, and gave the Marlins a 5-3 lead over the Pads.
To add to the excitement of the fourth inning, Chris Coghlan’s single was his 46th of August, and set a new team record for most hits in a month by a Marlins player. It was also the first time since 1954 that a National League rookie had accomplished the feat.
After the fourth, West didn’t allow another run. His afternoon ended after six innings, seven hits, seven strikeouts and three runs (one earned), and he exited in line for the win.  
The bullpen took over for West and Renyel Pinto pitched a scoreless seventh before Matt Lindstrom gave up a run to the Padres in the eighth to make it a one-run game.
The Marlins had a few chances to add on to the score when they loaded up the bases in the seventh and eighth innings, but all they managed was one run in the eighth when Coghlan worked a bases-loaded walk off of Greg Burke to give the Marlins a 6-4 lead.
Leo Nunez came in and closed it out for his 17th save of the season, and Sean West got the W for his second start in a row.
We’d nearly forgotten what a win felt like.
While salvaging the final game of the series does give us warm fuzzies deep inside, the fact that Sean West is suddenly the Marlins second-best starter does not (there we go again with the optimism). 
But for now, we’ll enjoy the victory.

Fish Win Fifth Straight… I Think.

blockedview.JPGThe way the Marlins have been scoring runs of late, a little five-run deficit Tuesday night honestly felt more like a mild annoyance, rather than a sign that the game might end poorly for the Fish.

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.

Fish Quiet Cubs Fans in Series Opener

shut_up.jpgSitting in an overwhelming sea of bright blue while being drowned out by chants of “Let’s go Cubs” is not my favorite way to experience a Marlins home game.

I guess the Fish couldn’t do too much about the blue in the stands, but at least they did a pretty decent job of quieting the away team’s loud mouths as the Marlins opened their series against the Cubs Friday night at Land Shark Stadium. 

Chris Volstad was on the mound for Florida, and basically cruised through 6 2/3 innings, including four perfect frames to kick off the game. Cody Ross contributed to Volstad’s perfection with a Willie Mays-like Cody Ross-like catch in the third inning, and earned himself a spot on SportsCenter’s top ten.
While Volstad did his thing, Rich Harden went five innings for the Cubs, gave up five hits, walked three, and matched his career high in strikeouts, fanning 11 (which–as everyone of sound baseball knowledge knows–is just an extremely special accomplishment against the Marlins lineup). 
Fortunately, the K’s weren’t enough to ensure a victory for the Cubs starter. With two outs in the second inning, Harden couldn’t put Chris Volstad away, and the pitcher logged his first career RBI on a double that scored Jeremy Hermida. Which reminds me– HLD&S would like to request that every Marlins pitcher begin using Chris Volstad’s bat. The exchange has worked out nicely for Josh Johnson, who crushed two home runs with the magical wood, and after Chris’s RBI hit Friday, we are convinced the Volstad bat is key to our pitching staff’s offense.  
Jorge Cantu gave the Fish a two-run lead on a solo homer in the third, and the Marlins enjoyed said lead through six innings, before the inevitable finally happened… They say there is comfort in familiarity, and if Volstad is familiar with anything this season, it’s giving up the long ball. We’ll call it his security blanket. With two outs in the top of the seventh, Chris served up a big fat mistake to Jake Fox, who jacked a two-run shot to tie up the game and end Volstad’s night with a no decision. 
Luckily, the Cubs decided to send Carlos Marmol to pitch the eighth with the game tied up at two apiece. Marmol walked two before the Fish inexplicably thought it would be a super neat idea to have Jeremy Hermida bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out. Um, yeah. Good plan. The bunt was just a beauty, folks, and the Cubs got the lead runner, which is–I’m almost positive–not at all what we wanted to happen in that situation. Correct me if I’m wrong. 
The good news is Marmol was undaunted by his break, and came back to hit Ross Gload with a pitch before giving up an RBI single to John Baker to put the Marlins back in the lead.
Wes “Grit” Helms capped off the scoring in the eighth on a 2-run pinch-hit RBI off of Marshall to provide some insurance for the Fish, who–by the way–drove in every one of their five runs Friday night with two outs. Dan Meyer and Brendan Donnelly held the score, Leo Nunez closed up shop, and the Marlins took the series opener against the Cubbies. 
Ah, nothing beats droves of opposing fans filing dejectedly out of Land Shark Stadium.
The Fish have won eight of their last ten, trail the Phillies by six games in the East, and are two games back in the wild card race. Tonight, newly acquired first baseman Nick Johnson will make his first start as a Fish, thus (prayerfully) ending The Bonifacio Experiment. Burke “The Hopper” Badenhop will take the mound to make his second start of the season. (We refuse to call him “the Dragon,” Fredi. We refuse.)

Ugly Red Hats Contribute to Fish Fall to Second Place (Or it could have been how badly they played. It’s a toss-up.)

red hat.jpgWell it was fun being in first place for 24 hours. Or maybe first place wasn’t fun, and that’s the reason the Marlins decided to try their absolute hardest to get out of it as they opened their series against the Pirates Friday night at Land Shark Stadium. Mission accomplished, boys.

Here’s the game in a nutshell:
The pitching sucked. 
The defense sucked.
The offense sucked.
The red hats sucked. 
But the two rain delays were just downright pleasant, so… 
Oh, you wanted a more extensive recap? Well we’d really rather not dwell on any of it, but OK.
The biggest news of the night was Han-RISP‘s RBI streak ending at ten games. The demise of the streak was pretty understandable, considering that there usually need to be runners on base in order to, you know, bat them in. Then again, Hanley went 0-4 on the night, so we won’t blame it all on the lack of offense in front of him.  
Chris Volstad continued his tradition of giving up the long ball excessively, surrendering two home runs–four runs total- in his three innings of work, before the second rain delay of the game shortened his outing. Tim Wood pitched three scoreless innings in relief, which would have been exciting had Chris Leroux not followed him with a three-run inning that ultimately put the game out of reach for the Fish.
As previously mentioned (see above), the defense sucked.
Offensively, there just wasn’t much going on, thanks mostly to Charlie Morton, who held the Marlins to one hit through six innings. Johnny Bakes did his best to get something going for the Fish, knocking in the first run of the game when he doubled in the seventh, and adding a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth. Ross Gload also drove in a run on a pinch-hit single in the seventh, but thanks to the pitching and defense, four runs weren’t enough as the Marlins lost to the Buccos for the fourth time this season.  
Official HLD&S Position: We still hate the red hats.

Fan Flu and Fish Firsts

johnny bakes bat.jpgYes, I have been MIA for a while. Thank you for noticing. This past week I have been battling with an illness that I have termed “fan flu,” since I’m 99% positive that I contracted this particular strain of unidentified illness at Land Shark Stadium over the weekend. 

Don’t ask.

During my recent battle between life and death (that may be a mild exaggeration of what has actually transpired the last few days), the Marlins decided to get all newsworthy and stuff by going on a tear of first time achievements: 
~ Sean West recorded his first big league win in style, by taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning against San Francisco Monday.
~ Brett Carroll hit his first major league home run Monday– off Randy Johnson, no less– and very nearly became the first Marlin to hit for the cycle, falling just a double short. (as a side note, thank you, Fredi, for finally giving Brett the chance to start a few games. When one can take ones BA from .212 to .270 in a mere four plate appearances, one is quite obviously not getting enough playing time. Official HLD&S position: let Brett play!)
~ Jeremy Hermida decided to get in on the fun Tuesday night against the Cards, and jacked the first walk-off home run of his career. The solo shot very nearly made up for the, um, “defense” we enjoyed from Jeremy during the earlier part of the game. 
~ Emilio Bonifacio enjoyed the first 3-RBI game of his career Tuesday, and his first error-free start of the season (OK, I made that last part up. It only feels like a first. And by the way, Emilio, while I enjoyed the win last night, I sort of wish you would stop taking a hiatus from sucking whenever we start to have a glimmer of hope that the Marlins are done giving you chances.)
~ The Fish have won six of their last nine, ensuring their first winning homestand since opening week. 
~ In what I refer to as “a taste of his own medicine,” Johnny Bakes took his first Albert Pujols backswing off the skull in Tuesday’s game, which required his first six stitches of the season…
All right, now I’m starting to push it. Back to orange juice and ice packs for me.