20 May 2011
Things looked so good for the Marlins this week after an 11 inning surprising win in New York on Monday, thanks to an RBI single by Burk Badenhop of all people, but how quickly things changed. Tuesday game in New York was postponed due to the threat of rain that was predicted for the area of Tuesday night, then the Marlins came home to face a Chicago Cubs team that had really been playing poorly as of late, and got swept in the two game series. The Marlins fall to 24-18, and while still only a game a and a half behind Philadelphia, they no longer have the second best record in the NL and are only a game ahead of Atlanta
Wednesday night the Marlins blew two leads and lost 7-5. Ricky Nolasco was suppose to start Tuesday, but had his start push back to Wednesday with the postponement. It is not clear whether or not that played a reason as to why the Marlins starter was not at the top of his game Wednesday giving up four earned runs, five total, on nine hits, but I think it is safe to say he would have pitched better had he made is scheduled start against the Mets. Then on Thursday night the Marlins just were unable to get any hits with men on base. The Marlins scored one run on a Mike Stanton solo home run, they also had seven other hits in the game and left twelve men on base.
This series really did just come down to the fact that the Marlins on offense could not drive in any the men on base and on defense they let Marlon Byrd and Reed Johnson steal these two games from them. The Marlins against the Cubs were able to score six runs in the two games combined, which is not bad, but they also left a combined 22 men on base. In effect the Marlins left 1.2 men on base every inning of this series. Meanwhile Marlon Byrd and Reed Johnson combined to go 5-12, with three home runs and six RBI. Byrd and Johnson are responsible for scoring as many runs as the Marlins scored in the series, and six of the Cubs 12 runs.
The real shame in this is that it comes out to another loss for Chris Volstad, who was actually pitching pretty well. Volstad got pulled out of the game because manager Edwin Rodriquez tried to spark some offense in the fifth inning when the pitchers spot lead off the inning, but it did not work as Scott Cousins struck out pitch hitting for Volstad. Through five innings Volstad had given up three runs, but off only four hits and a walk, while striking out five on 71 pitches. Volstad was on pace for his best outing since April 26 against the Dodgers when we gave up two runs in seven innings of work. Volstad is now 2-3 with an ERA of 5.73, but if you look hard at his last few starts it has just been a matter of one poor inning or a few bad pitches that has really hurt his numbers If he could just minimalize the damage in that one bad inning he usually has, Volstad be a very good fourth of fifth starter.
While the Marlins continue to get solid play from the hear of their batting order, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, Greg Dobbs, the players around them continue to have their ups and downs as the plate. The Marlins biggest name player, Hanley Ramirez, bounced back from his 0-6 performance Tuesday in New York to go 4-6 with a home run and his team high ninth stolen base. Hanley's batting average is now up to .217, and at this point people really should not talk about him making good contact or starting to hit the ball well until he prove he can sustain it and at least get his average to .230. The other player who is really starting to struggle is Chris Coghlan, who since taking a day off due to shoulder soreness has seen his average drop from .297 to .238. Over that time Coghlan has gone 13-77 and more recently he only has three hits in his last 33 at bats. When you figured going into the year that three of the top four batting averages on this team should come from Hanley, Coghlan, and Infante and those guys right now are hitting .217, .238, .231 respectively it is amazing the Marlins are still doing as well as they are. The one guy who is on the up swing, pun not intended, is Mike Stanton. Stanton has a seven game hitting streak going, and has a hit in 10 of the Marlins last 11 games. Over that 11 game span, Stanton has gone 13-39 with four home runs and has raised his batting average from .232 to .261. While Stanton should only hit between .250-.265 for the season, it is nice to se him beginning to make more consistent contact with the baseball.
Also I did get a question about JoseCeda, who has been a lights out closer in AAA this season, and when he would come up and be the Marlins closer. Chances are that is quite a ways a way. Leo Nunez, although he tends to make things interesting, is 15 for 15 in save opportunities this year and is under contract until 2013. Nunez will be the Marlins closer, unless he loses the job to poor performance, until he is no longer on the team. Even this year if Nunez beings to faulter, the Marlins would try out Clay Hensley and then Mike Dunn in the closer role before turning to Ceda. The Marlins right now like the way that their bullpen has performed and with Clay Hensley about to return (got nine outs on 22 pitches in extended spring training the other day), Burke Badenhop will again be sent down to the minors and will be the guy the Marlins prefer to bring up if they need another right handed pitcher in the bullpen for whatever reason. Ceda offers the Marlins some options, but he most likely will not see time in the Marlins bullpen until September unless the Marlins get several injuries to their bullpen, or they trade a guy or two to get a third baseman or fifth starter because they do have depth in the bullpen.
The Marlins now have to welcome the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays to south florida for a weekend interleague series. And as much as I want to believe the Javier Vazquez can turn this season around, I feel your pain Marlins fans when I look as Saturdays matchup.
- Friday at 7:10-- Anibal Sanchez vs. Andy Sonnanstine
- Saturday at 4:10-- David Price vs. Javier Vazquez
- Sunday at 1:10-- James Sheilds vs. Josh Johnson
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