This series versus the St. Louis Cardinals was absolutely necessary for the survival of our chances for the playoffs. After Game 1, it looked bleak with the Marlins lloking forward to facing Adam Wainright and Joel Pineiro, two of the Cardinal’s top performers. But along the way, the Marlins countered with spectacular performances by Sean West and Josh Johnson. The duo limited the Cardinals to just two runs in 12 innings of work, and today’s Blogservations will be focused on them. Charts as always from Brooks Baseball.
Sean West puts up his best start yet.
In the previous night’s game, West threw his best starting performance to date, striking out nine while walking three and allowing nothing out of the park. He did get into a few jams and relied on two double plays to help him out of them, particularly the bases loaded jam in the fifth inning in which he only allowed the sole run to come through. Otherwise, it was a surprisingly and impressively clean outing for West.
Sean did a very good job inducing whiffs, especially low in the zone with his breaking ball. He got 14 swings and misses, 12 outside the zone, which did a lot to help him get to nine strikeouts. His fastball was mostly thrown high in the zone, but it didn’t hurt him a lot. He got 63% strikes on his fastball, but those whiffs gave him 70% strike% on his 22 sliders, which was obviously key to being effective. Once again, the key to successful West play is the breaking ball; if it gets over, you’ve got a winner apparently, but if it doesn’t, he walks five in three innings and gets his fastball hammered.
Josh Johnson looks solid.
JJ is on a fairly strict pitch count nowadays, but it seems the team abandoned that yesterday, as they let him pitch to 100 yesterday after pulling him in the 80-pitch region in the last two starts. I guess he was rewarding the team, as he struck out five and walked none in his six innings of work. However, JJ also allowed nine hits, so let’s see how this ended up happening.
One of the places JJ was hit was in the lower left hand side of the plate. There he threw a slider and a changeup that the lefties were able to make good contact with, explaining two of the six hits in that small region. Lefties and righties split hits in that region, and JJ gave up a few more hits in the middle part of the plate on missed sliders, but in general they were meek hits; only Yadier Molina was able to record extra bases on Johnson. However, this was a second consecutive start in which JJ allowed more fly balls and line drives than grounders, which is troublesome. He allowed five liners today, most of them likely on the poorly located breaking pitches. He needs to be careful with this.
As always, JJ had life in his fastball, averaging a hair below 95 mph while touching a shade below 99 mph. In general, his stuff was moving exactly as it always does.
Other than the increasing fly ball/line drive rates, it was another typical dominating JJ start. We’re going to need a few more of these as we approach the end of the season. The Marlins are still marginally in it, standing 4.5 back of the Wild Card and seven games back of the Philadelphia Phillies with six games to go against them. A 5-1 or 6-0 record against the Phils is imperative for the team to pull off the improbable. To get to a good start heading into that game, we get the Cincinnati Reds for four games at Great American Ballpark, a place where the Marlins have struggled but a place where the Reds, one of the worst teams in baseball, play. We need to take advantage of this series and win as many games as possible. To get a shot at the playoffs, the team needs to rattle off 12 of 14 wins, and the Reds are a great place to start.
Finally, speaking of the Phillies game, the Maniac and his girlfriend will be attending the doubleheader on Tuesday next week! If you’re going to be in Landshark Stadium for either the afternoon or the nightcap, drop by and see us! I’ll likely be behind the Marlins bullpen, but I’m not sure, so I’ll get back to you all when I purchase the tickets. Marlins games don’t sell out early, right?