Is it me, or does it seem as though the Marlins’ bats enjoy going into a collective coma whenever we get a quality performance from a starter (see: Friday and Sunday vs. Mets)? And when a starter decides to have a dismal performance on the mound *cough* Miller&Sanchez *cough*, the wood springs to life like an ADHD-afflicted six-year-old who has just ingested several bottles of 5-hour energy.
It’s a good thing I turned the TV off when Justin Upton stole second in the fifth inning of Thursday night’s series opener between the Marlins and the Diamondbacks. My neighbors probably wouldn’t take too kindly to being jerked from their slumber by bloodcurdling yelps of horror.
Thankfully, I was headed to dreamland when Gerardo Parra’s liner smashed Badenhop in the leg and sent him to the ground, and thus did not have to experience firsthand the bone-chilling fear of a Hopper-less bullpen… or of being physically assaulted by the folks next door.
Seriously. Who else do the Marlins have who can be depended on to come in and mop up a mess the likes of which Andrew Miller left when he exited the game after just 2 2/3 innings?
Thankfully, the x-rays came back negative, and Badenhop is listed as day-to-day. Starters, make a mental note: no flaking out until Hop is good to go.
Swept by the Rays? No problem.
Not when the Nationals are up next on the schedule.
Not to disrespect my second-favorite team in the division, but after the way the Sunshine Series unfolded, a three-game set against the bowels of the NL East is just what the doctor ordered.
The Fish didn’t even need their ace Wednesday afternoon to complete their third sweep of the Nats this season. Uh, and that’s probably a good thing, seeing as it appeared to have slipped Josh Johnson’s mind that he is, in fact, said ace. JJ only gave up one run, but struggled with his command from the get-go, giving up four walks and five hits in his shortest outing of the season.
Josh exited the game after just 3 1/3 innings, which might be considered a bad thing for a team which does not employ The Hopper. Since the Marlins do, though, it was all good as Hop pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.
It just wouldn’t be a game against the Nats if there were no early deficit to overcome, so the Fish promptly fell behind in the first inning. They took back the lead in the third when Hanley knocked in two runs on a double (a double which, by the way, extends Hanley’s RBI-streak to ten games).
*insert obligatory rain delay*
In the top of the seventh, Renyel Pinto was all like, “hey, they’re making this way too easy on us,” so he decided to challenge his team by giving up two walks, two hits, two runs and the Marlins’ lead in just one-third of an inning. Cody Ross made up for Pinto’s real bad pitching by going deep to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, Wes Helms grounded into a fielder’s choice to score the go-ahead run in the eighth, Leo Nunez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, and voila!
The Marlins are now 9-0 against the Nats this season, and are just a game behind the Phillies for first place in the NL East.
Official HLD&S Position: We heart the Natinals!
OK, maybe that doesn’t happen every time, but it feels like it. Last night was a case in point, as Ani Sanchez could barely manage three innings, and the Fish scored 10 runs. Dan Uggla connected on his 100th home run, making MLB history as the fastest second baseman to reach that milestone. Cody Ross blasted his second grand salami of the season. Even Brettley Carroll got in on the action, going 2-for-4 and capitalizing on a rare opportunity to start in RF.
Then again, half of the runs scored in last night’s game came after the second starter of the night took the mound. Burke Badenhop tossed five scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and one walk to the Brew Crew. The Hopper and his terrific start–er, relief appearance were definitely one of the highlights in a game chock full of them. After his performance last night, I heard several references to Burke as the “unsung hero” of the pitching staff. Um, clearly you haven’t been reading HLD&S, people. We’ve been singing at the top of our lungs for quite some time. Call it Hopper: The Musical. Our throats hurt.
If Badenhop will be called on to put in the equivalent of a quality start whenever Sanchez or Miller pitches, I guess I no longer need to worry about campaigning for his spot in the rotation (although it might be fun to see Sanchy sent to the ‘pen to “battle through” a couple innings after the Hopper takes care of business through five or six). From here on out I don’t think we should look at it as long relief. Let’s just call it “starter by committee.”
Fun fact: No one on the Marlins pitching staff has more wins this season than Burke Badenhop. True story.