Tagged: Ross Gload

Ask and you shall receive…

008101209_marlins_.JPGHLD&S would like to think that all the drama in Wednesday’s Marlins-Braves series finale was a response to Monday’s lament about making the last few games of the season a bit more thrilling than watching paint dry. But whether or not that was the case, the rubber match at Turner Field was one exciting game to witness. 

Despite the bats showing up for the second night in a row, the real show Wednesday was Ricky Nolasco. In his final start of 2009, Ricky pitched like a man possessed, striking out batter after batter after batter. 
At one point, Nolasco struck out the side in three consecutive innings (third, fourth and fifth), becoming just the fourth pitcher in history to do so. The nine straight K’s were also one short of the Major League record.   
Against Javier Vazquez, the Marlins provided some run support for the dealing Nolasco, and scored three times in the second inning. Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla both hit RBI singles, and a wild pitch scored a run to give the Fish a 3-0 lead. Ross Gload went deep off of Vazquez in the fifth, hitting a two-run shot to put the Marlins up 5-0. 
The Braves finally got on the board against Ricky with two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh. With two out, Garret Anderson singled and Yunel Escobar reached on an error by Hanley. Adam LaRoche drove in both runs with an RBI single, and erased the shutout of Atlanta. 
Ricky recorded his sixteenth strikeout of the game in the eight inning, and his night was done after 7 2/3 innings and 123 pitches. Ricky gave up four hits, two unearned runs, and recorded a career high 16 strikeouts in the start. The K-fest set a franchise record for most strikeouts in a game, and Ricky also plowed through his career high for strikeouts in a season, ending 2009 with 195.
As if Ricky’s display wasn’t excitement enough, the Marlins generously gave us a nail-biter of a ninth inning, where–to quote Nolasco in the understatement of the week–“it got a little interesting.” 
Leo Nunez walked Brian McCann to lead off the bottom of the ninth, a botched double play and error by Jorge Cantu advanced McCann to third base, and Yunel Escobar singled to drive in the run. With one out, Wes Helms committed the second error of the inning on a throw to first that ended up in the dirt and allowed Matt Diaz to reach. Omar Infante added a pinch hit RBI single to bring the Braves within a run.    
After the performance of a lifetime, Ricky Nolasco was getting dangerously close to a no-decision. Leo walked Nate McClouth to load the bases, and the call to the bullpen brought out veteran Brendan Donnelly. 
Donnelly’s very first pitch in the game got by Ronny Paulino, and Matt Diaz started for home. He retreated as Paulino got to the ball, but couldn’t get back to third before the catcher picked him off for the final out of the game.
With that out, Donnelly got his second save for the Fish, and Ricky Nolasco won his 13th game of the season.
While HLD&S is appreciative of the Marlins attempts at entertaining us in the last few days of 2009, we could do without the cardiac arrest. And seeing as all four of Atlanta’s runs were unearned, we could also do without the sloppy defense.
But now we’re just nit-picking.
Though it’s true that nothing can compare to the feeling of one’s own team making it to the post-season, essentially taking the chance away from a division rival is kinda fun too.
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Marlins make it two in a row in Cinci

If there was any lingering doubt as to whether the Marlins were really through with their losing ways in Cincinnati, they were laid to rest Saturday night when the Fish and the Reds faced off in game three of their series at the Great American Ball Park.

It was once again a good night for pitching. Ricky Nolasco put in a beautiful four hit, ten strikeout, seven inning performance, and Bronson Arroyo matched it with a nice night on the mound himself, allowing six hits to the Marlins through eight strong innings of work. 
The teams hit two home runs apiece to account for the only scoring in the game. 
The Reds took the lead in the first on a solo home run by Drew Stubbs, and maintained their lead until Jorge Cantu tied it up on a home run in the fifth. That was all the scoring the Fish could manage through the first seven innings of the game, so when Ricky gave up a solo home run to Ryan Hanigan in the seventh, he exited down 2-1, and in line for the loss. 
But after Ronny Paulino doubled in the eighth, Ross Gload pinch hit for Ricky and went deep to give the Marlins the lead, and a chance for Ricky to win the game.
Brian Sanches handled the eighth and one out of the ninth, and Dan Meyer got the second out of the ninth before Matt Lindstrom finished things off for his 15th save of the season. 
Thanks to Gload’s gritty pinch hit home run, Nolasco got the W, and the Marlins took their second game in a row at the Great American Ball Park.

The fat lady may not be singing, but she’s at least begun her vocal warm-ups.

volstad stinks it up.jpgIf games lasted just one inning, the Marlins would have had a great night.

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. 

Sanchez Opts Out of Sweep

anibad.jpgAs the Marlins head into the final month of the season, each remaining game that is played is made up of the following:

1) Things that will help the Marlins keep alive their tiny flicker of hope of making the playoffs, and 2) Things that will help the Marlins have plenty of time to play golf and engage in other activities–which do not include playing Major League baseball–in October.
As the Marlins went for a sweep of the Mets Thursday afternoon at The Shark, there was decidedly more of the latter. 
Anibal Sanchez was pretty much outstanding in his last outing, and Fish fans were hoping to see more of the same from him as he faced the Mets in the final game of the series. Instead, what they got to see was a massive struggle to get through the fourth inning. Anibal would last just 3 2/3 against the Mets, giving up four runs (2 earned) on eight hits and throwing 82 pitches in the process.
The unearned runs came courtesy of some sloppy defense by Gload and Sanchez, who each committed errors in the game that resulted in two runs for New York. 
It didn’t help that Tim Redding started for the Mets, and the Fish could only manage five hits off of him through 6 2/3 innings. Chris Coghlan hit a pair of solo home runs–one in the first and one in the sixth inning–and Dan Uggla added a solo shot of his own in the seventh, which accounted for all three of the runs the Marlins managed to put on the board. 
Three runs may be enough to win a game when your pitchers are on, but on an afternoon when Florida’s arms gave up ten runs, the long balls were not enough. 
Christhian Martinez came into the game in relief of Sanchez and gave up four runs in the fifth inning. In fact, New York scored off of every Marlins pitcher who entered the game Thursday, which was incredibly fun to watch (or listen to/receive texts about/follow on game day while watching nervously for your boss to walk by your cubicle–it was a day game after all).
Bad starting pitching, bad relief pitching, poor defense and a lack of offense… I read somewhere that those things generally do not add up to a win. They sure didn’t in this game.
The Fish took two of three from the Mets in the series, and didn’t lose any ground in the East or in the Wild Card, thanks to the Rockies and Phillies being so kind as to lose Thursday as well. More importantly, though, they didn’t gain any ground, either. With a little over a month left in the season, that’s going to be necessary, and soon.

Gritty Win for Fish

instant grit.jpgIt was fitting that Sean West took the mound Tuesday night with the song “Hero” blaring through the stadium speakers. After a road trip that, well, sucked, a hero was just what the Marlins were in need of. Or, if you prefer to be less melodramatic about the game of baseball, at the very least the team was in need of a starter who could go more than four innings, and get through the first without giving up three or four runs. 

West wasn’t necessarily heroic as the Fish took on the Mets to kick off a ten-game homestand at The Shark, but he did have a quality night on the mound, allowing just one run on six hits and three walks through six innings. 
Nelson Figueroa wasn’t too bad himself, and gave the Marlins some trouble when he attempted to do his best impersonation of a Johan Santana start. Figueroa was filling in for Santana after the starter was scratched from the game due to elbow issues, and allowed just four hits to the Marlins through five innings. 

With the score tied up at one in the Fifth, it was Ross “True Grit” Gload who established himself as the hero of the night. West got into trouble when he loaded the bases with one out, and Jeff Francoeur hit a high pop in foul territory, which Ross Gload practically leapt over the camera well to catch. From HLD&S’s stellar view in the bullpen box, a catch didn’t even seem humanly possible, so we could only guess at what the crowd was cheering about (free frozen lemonade? The Mermaids actually dancing in sync for once? It was anybody’s guess, really) until the replay came up on the jumbotron. The defensive play seemed to magically remind Sean how to throw strikes, and he struck out Fernando Tatis on three pitches to end the threat. 
Ross Gload wasn’t quite done with the gritty heroics after his potentially game-saving catch, though. With two out and Hermida on second in the bottom of the fifth, Gload swooped in yet again to save the day, hitting a single to drive in the tie-breaking run and give the Fish a 2-1 lead. 
The Marlins had chances to add on to the score, but they, um, chose not to. After the weekend bullpen issues, a one-run lead made me feel like throwing up my insides from fear and panic wasn’t the most comfortable way to enter the final innings. But, after Sanches pitched a scoreless 7th, it was clear that Lindstrom and Nunez were not in the mood for theatrics. 1-2-3 8th and 9th innings ensued, and the Fish took game one from the Mets. 
The Marlins are 7 games behind the Phillies in the East, and remain 5 games back in the Wild Card, thanks to another Rockies win. 

Welcome Back, Sanchy.

sanchez.JPGAnibal Sanchez hadn’t pitched in a big league game since June 2nd, and he didn’t waste any time getting himself reacquainted with the mound Friday night at Turner Field as the Marlins kicked off a three-game series with the Braves. 

In his pitching debut since returning from the DL, Sanchez impressed, to say the least. He allowed just two hits, walked two, and struck out seven Braves through six innings, and had a no-hitter going until one out in the sixth. It was at that point that Atlanta pitcher Javier Vazquez was kind enough to break up the fun with a single. 

Vazquez didn’t look too bad on the mound himself, and a pitchers duel lasted through five innings as he managed to keep the Marlins off of the board. In the sixth, though, Hanley Ramirez–whose personal hit streak reached 16 games earlier in the night–drove in a run and put the Marlins up 1-0 over the Braves. 
In the seventh, things got worse for Vazquez. Jeremy Hermida took him deep to start the inning, then Wes Helms doubled, and with two out, Ross Gload drove Wes in with an RBI single. Hanley Ramirez followed with his third hit and third RBI of the night, a two-run shot that gave the Fish a 5-0 lead. 

A shutout of the Braves would’ve been swell, but Adam LaRoche had other ideas, which included taking Dan Meyer deep in the bottom of the inning, and cut the Marlins lead to two runs. 
And then came the rain…two-and-a-half hours of it. Thankfully, Marlins fans are perfectly used to that, and as a special treat got to enjoy the new “Inside the Marlins” episode featuring Josh Johnson. As much as we all love Andre Dawson, with all the rain that has plagued us this season, Fish fans pretty much know Dawson’s episode by heart.
When the rains finally dissipated, I was asleep. But from what I can tell from the box score and several text messages from friends who were watching the game, Leo Nunez came in to pitch the ninth, and recorded two outs before giving up a single that Adam Laroche tried to stretch into a double. Cody Ross gunned down LaRoche at second for the final out, and Anibal Sanchez earned his first win since mid-April.   
The Fish are once again three games behind the Rockies in the Wild Card, and 5 ½ games behind Philadelphia in the NL East. 
Welcome back, Sanchy. More of the same next time, please.

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.)