But since that’s not how baseball works, instead, fans are likely nursing throbbing headaches, dehydration and nausea due to the gallons of liquid happy amnesia they downed after one of the most depressing ends to a game in recent memory.
But let’s start at the beginning, which was decidedly less mournful.
On the three-year anniversary of his no-hitter, Anibal Sanchez had a strong start for the Fish. He struck out five and allowed just four hits and two walks to the Nationals through six scoreless innings. The problem at first was that J.D. Martin decided to put in a quality start of his own, and held Florida to just two runs in 6 2/3 innings.
The 100th home run of Hanley Ramirez’s career put the Fish up 1-0 in the top of the fourth, and the Marlins tagged Martin for one more run with two out in the seventh, when Chris Coghlan hit an RBI single to give the team a two-run advantage.
With two out in the bottom of the eighth, and the Marlins up 2-0, Renyel Pinto decided he was done pitching. He proceeded to give up a walk, a single, and another walk to load the bases before Fredi pulled him in favor of Kiko Calero. Kiko was unable to get out of the inning unscathed, and gave up a two-run single to Mike Morse to tie up the game.
Fish fans rejoiced in the top of the ninth when Nick Johnson played hero and hit a two-run single to give the lead back to the Florida Marlins, but the rejoicing was premature, considering Leo Nunez was heading to the mound in the bottom of the inning.
It happened really fast, sort of like a multi-vehicle crash that takes just a few seconds, but feels like it’s happening in slow motion. The first pitch Nunez threw to Willie Harris was launched into the seats, and the score was 4-3. Next, Leo gave up an infield single to Cristian Guzman. And as a grand finale, Ryan Zimmerman jacked a walk-off, two-run shot.
Obviously, it isn’t possible. But even if it were, despite going three for four with a walk and five RBI, Brian McCann wasn’t the real problem for the Marlins as they faced off with the Braves at Turner Field to end their road trip.
The problem, once again, was pitching.
Ricky Nolasco went with the recent trend of Marlins starters and struggled in the first inning. He issued two walks before Brian McCann began his one-man assault of Florida with a home run that gave the Braves a 3-0 lead.
Ricky would last just 4 1/3 innings against Atalnta. He allowed four runs on eight hits and walked three before being lifted in the fifth with one out and the bases loaded. Cristhian Martinez was one bright spot in the bullpen as he entered the game to work out of Ricky’s jam and hold the Braves to four runs.
The good news for the Marlins was that Derek Lowe didn’t exactly have the most memorable afternoon on the mound himself. The pitcher went five innings and gave up five runs, including a three-run double by Catcher Ronny Paulino that put the Fish ahead 5-4 in the fourth inning.
The Marlins maintained their lead through six innings, and it was all downhill from there. Kiko Calero pitched the seventh and gave up the game-tying run, and then came the delight that was the bottom of the eighth. Calero walked Omar Infante to start the inning before Renyel Pinto came in and joined the fun with a walk to Kelly Johnson. After Chipper Jones grounded out, Brian McCann was at it again, this time with a single off of Pinto that scored two runs and gave Atlanta a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Ricky Nolasco and the bullpen walked eight Braves Sunday, and four of McCann’s five RBI were the result of those walks. Bottom line? Brian McCann had a good afternoon at the plate, but he didn’t cost the Marlins the game. If our pitchers weren’t tossing out free passes like candy at a parade, McCann could just as easily have put a single run on the board for the Braves, rather than five.
So behind some weak starting pitching, and less-than-inspiring pitching from a few of our relievers as well, the Fish dropped their second game–and second series–in a row.
I need to look it up in my baseball manual to be sure, but I’m almost positive this isn’t how you go about winning the Wild Card.
As everyone knows, the Golden Hook is the most sought-after accolade in the game of baseball, awarded semi-annually by HLD&S to only the most deserving of Marlins. The “Hookie” is so coveted, in fact, that it is rumored to be the reason Manny Ramirez wanted to play for the Marlins last season. (True story.)
And now, without further delay, the envelope, please. And the Hookie goes to…
JJ is our first recipient of a Golden Hook, for obvious reasons. The All Star ace leads the Marlins pitching staff in every category that matters, and is one of the best pitchers in the league. Need we say more? No. But we still will, of course. It is HLD&S’s firm belief that had Johnson started in the All Star Game, the National League would have pulled out the victory.
If this bestowment needs to be explained to you, then you obviously happened upon this blog while searching for information about fishing reels. Move along.
You know that feeling where you get all queasy in your stomach and you feel like puking and your heart starts thumping wildly and chills of fear make the hair on the back of your neck stand up? No? OK, think back to the last time Matt Lindstrom came into a game. Are you with us now? Thought so. Kiko Calero has never given us that feeling. When K-Lero comes into a game, usually warm fuzzy feelings–and more importantly, OUTS–ensue.
All that stuff we just said about Kiko Calero? Yeah, just do a “find and replace” in your brain to swap Kiko’s name with Dan’s, and mentally paste that right here. Thanks.
Seriously. Not getting benched or demoted to low-A or kicked out of the game of baseball entirely requires some serious skills when you happen to be the worst player of all time. (Admittedly, we may have gone a bit far with the “of all time” part.) Considering his struggles, the fact that Bonifacio has somehow managed to still be leading off and playing third base for a Major League club has garnered him his very first Golden Hook. (HLD&S stands by its statement that accusations we paid an awards presenter to impale the third baseman with the trophy are completely fabricated. And besides, a broken bone would be far more advantageous to us if we’re talking DL stint.)
Looking at the Hopper’s contributions to the first half of the Marlins season, we would be remiss to exclude him from these honors. Whether Hop’s swooping in to save the day when a starter tanks, holding the score for multiple innings when a game goes into extras, or even starting a game when the need arises, he’s been invaluable to the team thus far this season.
It’s been a while since a pitcher made the transition from “starter we are petrified to see on the mound” to “starter we are completely OK with” in just the first half of the season. In our book, that’s worthy of a Golden Hook (HLD&S reserves the right to strip you of your trophy in event that you revert back to your pre-demotion ways. Not a threat or anything. Just sayin’.)
And that concludes the Golden Hooks of the first 90 games of the season. We’ll try not to be as stingy with our praise after the second half. Then again, that may require that the Fish do a bit more to impress us over the next 72 games.
And we aren’t talking about the weather.
When Jorge Cantu slapped a single to left to score Bonifacio in the bottom of the 12th, a 5-year-old Orioles fan scrunched up his face, threw back his head and wailed unabashedly and inconsolably, tears gushing down his little cheeks.
If it were socially acceptable for grown adults to express their feelings in such a manner, HLD&S would have created a similar spectacle in the top of the ninth, when Matt Lindstrom obliterated a beautiful start from Andrew Miller, a grand slam from Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins’ 3-run lead.
“Stormy” recorded the first two outs in the ninth inning against the Orioles Tuesday night, then proceeded to give up two runs on four straight hits. After Lindstrom was lifted, Brian Sanches allowed a run to score, sending the game into extra innings.
And that is the last time HLD&S will turn to our neighbor in the top of the ninth to remark on what a charmingly fast-paced game we are enjoying.
After a few scoreless innings from Burke Badenhop, and some stellar defense from the Fish, luckily–or perhaps more fitting a word would be miraculously–Bonifacio managed not to swing at four balls from Brian Bass to draw a leadoff walk in the twelfth. Emilio then took second on a wild pitch and scored on Jorge Cantu’s single, almost making us forget about all the rest of his at-bats in the game. (Almost.)
We’ll just save the whining about Lindstrom continuing to close. To say that Marlins fans are growing weary of the ninth-ining theatrics is stating the overly obvious, and anyway, who else is going to pitch the ninth? Kiko Calero is already on the DL, and Leo Nunez was taken out of the game in the eighth inning Tuesday due to an ankle sprain. Plus, given Fredi’s “stick with him” position, resistance is futile. Matt Lindstrom is the closer, and we will all continue to experience elevated blood pressure, mild strokes, panic attacks and hyperventilation in save situations until he finally learns how to get that third out, or blows enough games to be demoted from his current role.
Incidentally, after nearly every game Brett Carroll plays, there is an intense struggle between our desire for all major news outlets to shout from the rooftops the greatness of his cannon of an arm, and the selfish desire to keep Brettley as unheralded as possible so that teams will continue to foolishly try and run on him. What to do, what to do.
The Marlins seventh win in the last ten games brings them back to .500 for the first time since May 13th.
HLD&S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT
In a HLD&S exclusive, Bullpen catcher Jeffrey Urgelles was seen displaying a bit of a temper after the Fish Matt Lindstrom blew the lead in the ninth against the Orioles Tuesday night. Fans who witnessed the scene were mildly surprised, as it’s pretty rare to see a show of emotion from the Marlins bullpen. Um, but then again, it has to be extremely physically taxing trying to hold that “please enjoy my bottom, ladies” pose through extras. (We recommend Icy Hot, Urgs.)