On the very last Saturday afternoon of the regular season, Fox finally decided to grace us with a game that featured the Marlins. Boy, the national exposure couldn’t have come at a better time…you know, after the Phillies clinched the NL East, and after the Marlins had been eliminated from the Wild Card.
But we won’t complain too much, because a Fox Saturday game appears to be just what Hanley Ramirez needed to emerge from his recent slump. Come on, we all know what a fan Hanley is of the big stage, and after getting Friday night off, he wasted no time busting out of his 0-for-11 skid on national TV.
In his first at bat, Ramirez doubled off of Cole Hamels to drive in Coghlan, stole third, and then scored on a sac fly from Jorge Cantu. The sacrifice was Cantu’s his 100th RBI of the season, and put the Marlins up 2-0.
Unfortunately for Hanley and Cantu, they wouldn’t last the game. In the fourth inning Hanley left with a knee contusion, and Cantu followed shortly after with a sprained ankle. Hanley is questionable for the series finale, but Cantu’s season ended when he was doubled off in the sixth.
Anibal Sanchez also seemed to be a fan of the national exposure. Or maybe he just wanted to keep up the Jekyl and Hyde routine he’s had going of late. Whichever is the case, Sanchez put in a strong performance against the Phillies. And unlike his 8-walk start earlier in the week, he was actually able to locate the strike zone Saturday. Sanchy went seven innings, and allowed only one run on five hits and two walks. The one run he gave up was naturally another *yawn* Ryan Howard home run– his 45th of the season.
In the second inning the Fish scored a third run off of Hamels on an RBI double by [NL ROY] Chris Coghlan. Three innings and 47 pitches were all the Phillies allowed Hamels, who was pulled after giving up three runs on three hits and two walks.
The Marlins added what would prove to be a very valuable insurance run in the eighth on an RBI double by Uggla. And it was nice of Dan to drive in the extra run, because he was a big part of the reason the Fish ended up needing it. Uggla’s throwing error in the bottom of the eighth allowed Ryan Howard to reach base before Brian Sanches gave up a home run to Jayson Werth that brought the Phillies within a run.
Brad Lidge was surprisingly not in the mood to give up any runs in the ninth, so it was up to Leo Nunez to save the game with just a one-run lead. With the help of a nice defensive play from Uggla (which partially redeemed him for his costly eighth inning error) Leo handled the Phillies one-two-three for his 26th save of the season.
With their fourth win in a row, the Marlins improved to 13 games over .500 and took over sole possession of second place in the NL East. The win also made Fredi Gonzalez the winningest manager in Fish history.
It was the beginning of the end (pause to weep bitterly) as the Fish and the Phils opened their final series of the regular season Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
With the Marlins fighting the Braves for second place in the East, and the Phillies trying to secure home field advantage in the post-season, the Fish had plenty to play for despite being eliminated from the playoffs.
Hanley–in a slump the last few weeks, and hitless in his last 11 ABs–got the night off, but a strong start from Rick VandenHurk and the bats of Jorge Cantu and Cameron Maybin were all the Fish needed to nab their 86th win of the season.
With Joe Blanton on the mound, the Marlins got on the board in the first inning thanks to a two-run single from Jorge Cantu. But the Phils answered right back in the bottom of the first when Ryan Howard went deep off of Rick VandenHurk to tie up the game at two apiece.
Despite the early home run, Hurk made his last start of the season a good one. He allowed five hits through six solid innings, and after the long ball in the first, Hurk didn’t give up another run to the Phillies.
Once Howard tied the game, the Marlins wasted no time answering back. In the top of the second, Emilio Bonifacio singled, and back-to-back RBI doubles by Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan gave the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
In the seventh, the Marlins loaded the bases with nobody out, but only managed to push one run across the plate on an RBI from Dan Uggla. Joe Blanton was done after he faced one batter in the seventh, and finished the night with five earned runs on nine hits through six innings.
The Marlins added on again in the eighth inning when Cantu drove in his 99th run of the season on a sac fly, and John Baker hit an RBI single to give the Marlins a five-run advantage.
Jorge Cantu continued his RBI tear and drove in three of the Marlins seven runs in the game. Cantu, who drove in 25 in the month of Setember, sits just one RBI away from the century mark with two games left to play. Cameron Maybin also impressed Friday, batting second and going 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored.
With the win, the Marlins improved to 86-74, and are tied with the Braves for second place in the NL East. They also diminished the Phillies chances of home field advantage in the post-season.