Small Ball Carries the Marlins to .500
Ricky Nolasco and Giancarlo Stanton were the keystones for the Marlins’ series wrap-up game last night in San Diego. Finishing in nine innings, the Marlins were able to capitalize on some key Padre mistakes, including two trips to the backstop by ex-Marlin catcher John Baker.
Nolasco went seven innings, giving up five hits and 2 earned runs. In the process he notched his 68th career win with the Fish, tying Dontrelle Willis for the top of the all-time franchise wins list. Relief appearance by Choate and Webb didn’t inspire confidence, but Edwin Mujica came in to close the game, and did his job without sending half of South Florida to the emergency room with elevated blood pressure.
Giancarlo Stanton had his most impressive at-bat of the year, even though the result was a walk. Stanton came to the plate with two outs in the top of the eighth, with bases loaded and the score tied. Facing triple-digit flamethrower Andrew Cashner, Stanto fought through eight pitches over 100 MPH. His terrific defensive swings finally won the war of attrition, and Stanton walked in the go-ahead run. In the seventh inning, Stanton made a hard-running, diving catch in right field to stop a last-ditch effort by the Padres. It looks like spring training is finally over for Mr. Stanton.
It looks like the Marlins are finally capitalizing on their trump card: The more that Reyes, Bonifacio, Ramirez and Infante get on base, the more we’ll see the Marlins posting in the “W” column. The key is the aggressive small ball that manager Ozzie Guillen brings to the games. Last night, a couple of perfect bunts advanced runners. We stole three bases, bringing the team total to 33 on the year.
We took advantage of passed balls twice. Getting the top third of our lineup on base has made all the difference for the Marlins on this road trip. Once we got the speed on the bags, aggressive baserunning has ignited the Marlins.