01 May 2011
The Marlins were able to shake off a bad loss on Saturday night to come back and win the rubber match Sunday and take the series in Cincinnati. With the wins the Marlins are now 17-9 (14-0 when they hit a home run) and are off to their best start in franchise history, and the Marlins are now only behind Philadelphia for the best record in the NL.
But for all that good that comes with the series win the Florida Marlins are leaving Cincinnati exposed for the first time this season. Yes the Marlins dominated the 3rd game, but that does not mean that we can look past the trends that showed up in the first two games of the series. One of those trends being the Marlins bullpen had shown signs of reverting back to their 2010 form. In the 4 games before their series against the Reds they had given up 9 hits, 6 walks and 5 run in 11.2 innings, and in the 3 games versus Cincy they gave up 8 runs, 12 hits, and 5 walks in 7.2 innings. The Marlins had the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors after the first three weeks of the season, so their is some hope that this is just a rough patch and they can get back on track soon. However fans and players from last years team can't help but be reminded of the 2010 Marlins bullpen which blew the lead they were given 27 times. Some frustration even came out from of Josh Johnson who said after the game "We have to win that game." It was a game that saw Josh Johnson throw 53 pitches threw 3 innings, but end up pitching 7 innings of shut out ball and lowered his ERA to 0.88 in 2011. If there was anyone who has a right to be frustrated it would be Johnson who has seen 7 wins in 2010 and now 2 wins in 2011 blown by the Marlins bullpen. Things may have been different for the Marlins on Saturday had Clay Hensley and/or Leo Nunez been available (Hensley wasn't because he fell down stairs at the team hotel on Friday), but both have seen their share of the struggles over this past stretch.
The other issue for the Marlins is that their offense goes threw droughts threw game. On Friday the Marlins scored 5 runs on 5 hits in the first inning, and only had 2 runs and 2 hits the rest of the game. On Saturday the Marlins had 1 run on 4 hits threw 7 innings and finished the game with 3 runs on 5 hits. Even on Sunday where the Marlins score 9 runs on 11 hits, but 6 of those runs and 6 hits came after the start of the 7th inning. On the year the Marlins are 12th in the NL in hits and 11th in runs. Their are two reasons that can be pointed to to explain this. First of which has been the that Hanley Ramirez and John Buck have really struggled this first month with the two barley hitting .200 (Hanley .200, Buck .202), and Mike Stanton and Omar Infante have not been that much better (Infante .238, Stanton .235). Although I do need to give credit where credit is due. After the last series against the Dodgers I called out John Buck and Hanley Ramirez for slumping from the plate and the fact that the two power hitters have combined for one home run so far. While Hanley didn't light the world on fire with his hitting in this series going 3-14, he did hit his first home run since September 9, 2010 in the first inning on Sunday. John Buck really came through for the Marlins this week going 4-11 with two home runs, a 3-run blast Friday and a 2-run shot Sunday to break up a 3-3 tie in the 7th.
The other reason is that the Marlins have not been able to stay healthy at all. Logan Morrison has been the only player who has been sent to the DL, but if don't include games that they have pitched hit Marlins starters Mike Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan have combined to miss 9 due to injury, and even Omar Infante left the game Saturday because of a cramp in his hamstring (although he did play Sunday). And when combine this with the fact that the Marlins are platooning Emilio Bonifacio, Donnie Murphy, Wes Helms, and Greg Dobbs at third base it really makes these injuries that much worse.
All that being said the Marlins once again got great starts from Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Javier Vazquez. A month into the season it looks as though this group of starting pitchers is as good as advertised. We will see how the rest of the season plays out, but outside of injury their is no reson for most of the starters not to stay on pace with their numbers, except for maybe Josh Johnson's insanely low ERA. Also since I am driving the Greg Dobbs bandwagon I need to say it again; Greg Dobbs needs to be the regular third baseman starter for the Marlins. Dobbs went 3-6 with a home run and a walk in this series and brings his average up to .372 for the season.
Florida now heads out to St. Louis to face the Cardinals in a four game series starting Monday:
- Monday at 8:15-- Chris Volstad vs. Kyle Lohse
- Tuesday at 8:15-- Anibal Sanchez vs. Kyle McClellen
- Wednesday at 8:15-- Javier Vazquez vs. Chris Carpenter
- Thursday at 1:40-- Josh Johnson vs. Jake Westbrook