Sweep-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.
Things looked pretty good for the Fish in the first inning Friday night as they kicked off a series against the Padres at Land Shark Stadium.
For starters, Volstad managed to restrain himself from giving up a home run, and 1-2-3 went the Padres. The fact that he made it out of the first long ball-free and run-free gave fans a teensy glimmer of hope that Chris may actually be able to pitch something that at least mildly resembled a quality start.
After the Marlins scored a run off of starter Kevin Correia in the bottom of the inning, though, we found out that Chris had merely been delaying the inevitable.
In the second, Volstad unraveled. Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled to lead off the inning, Venable singled, and then Chris pulled his trademark move and gave up a home run to Kyle Blanks to give the Padres a 3-1 lead. The long ball was Volstad’s 27th of the season.
But the joy of the second inning wasn’t over then. Things only got worse from there as the Padres scored three more runs off of Volstad before Fredi lifted him from the game. Kouzmanoff, who led off the second with a double, was the first and the last batter Volstad would face in the inning. In his second at-bat of the frame Kouzmanoff walked, and Chis’s night was over after giving up six runs to the Padres in just 1 2/3 innings, marking the shortest start of his career.
Correia, on the other hand, lasted 6 2/3 innings against the Marlins, and allowed four runs on eleven hits. The Fish threatened in the seventh when Wes Helms doubled in a run and the Marlins loaded up the bases with two out, but Ronny Paulino grounded into a force out to end the inning.
For the second night in a row the Marlins bullpen was called on to piece together a game, and once again they were unable to hold the score. Brian Sanches, Dan Meyer and Renyel Pinto each allowed a run, and stretched the Padres lead to 9-4.
In the ninth inning the Marlins put another run on the board when Ross Gload doubled and Coghlan drove him home with a single, but that’s where the scoring ended for the Fish. Helms grounded into his second double play of the night, and Cantu made the final out to end the game.
If you’re looking for anything positive to take away from the game, the good news is the Marlins only gave up 9 runs and 16 hits Friday, which is at least a small improvement over the 17-hit, 10-run effort from the Marlins’ pitching staff Thursday night.
Chris Volstad and Gaby Sanchez were optioned to AAA after the game to make room for some fresh arms. After that, we’re going to need some.
It’s unfortunate that quality starting pitching is a requirement for making the post-season.
Unfortunately, while all that was going on, it seemed the Philadelphia Phillies decided that they would never lose a game again, ever, so the Fish gained exactly zero ground in the East going into the series finale with the Friars. But the Cubbies helped the Marlins out with a 10-5 pummeling of the Philths Wednesday afternoon, and so the Fish have gained at least one game on the reigning world champs. Thanks, Cubs. (And be sure to get all that “win” stuff out of your system before you head to South Florida next week.)
The Marlins are now six games back in the East, and HLD&S has discovered its new favorite antidepressant: real bad teams.