Johnson and Bell Don’t Slide; Marlins Close a Great Road Trip
Last night, Josh Johnson pitched his way to a no-decision over seven innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs. He struck out six. His strongest pitching was later in his outing, during innings five, six, and seven. Early on, he still seemed tentative, with his slider still not biting hard enough to use as a filthy “out” pitch. His fastballs were registering in his typical 92-94 range, but it just wasn’t moving much until later in his game.
Hanley Ramirez shot a hard grounder past the shortstop that allowed Jose Reyes to tally the first score of the night. An error charged to John Buck put up the first run for the Astros. About two pitches after my 11-year-old son quoted from a magazine that there are three ‘Chris Johnsons‘ in professional sports, the Astros’ Chris Johnson lifted a long ball into the Crawford Boxes in left field. The Marlins were behind 1-2. RBI base hits in the fourth inning by John Buck and Jose Reyes brought the game to 3-2.
After Lucas Harrell came off of the hill for the Astros, Brad Mills brought in Wilton Lopez. Apparently, Mr. Lopez felt that the Marlins’ “¿Lo viste?” gesture is an affront to decency, small children and the Public Good. In the top of the seventh, he was apparently so upset with the gesture that it affected his ability to hit the strike zone with a fastball. Hanley Ramirez thoughtlessly left his upper arm in the way of the errant pitch and became upset with himself for potentially impacting the self-esteem of Mr. Lopez. Tim Timmons, the head Civility Facilitator, decided an immediate intervention was required for Hanley, and held an emergency anger management therapy session for Hanley on his way to first base. The intervention in no way appeased Mr. Lopez, who was so clearly upset by the loss of control on his fastball that he broke into tears, wiping his right eye with two fingers of his right hand as he returned to the dugout. Once he regained his composure, he offered words of encouragement and support to Hanley during the remainder of the impromptu intervention.
After J.J. came out, Ozzie Guillen started a bullpen parade, and they did very well. Mujica, Cishek, Bell, Choate, and Webb each took a trip to the mound and nibbled away at the game. When each reliever came out, Lead Facilitator Timmons walked out to the mound and asked them if they had any words of affirmation and support that he could pass along to the distraught Mr. Lopez.
In the ninth, the Astros’ Carlos Lee finally connected to a Cishek fastball and looped a ball to right field. While not charged with an error, Giancarlo Stanton certainly misplayed the ball by allowing it to get behind him. What was a routine single became a stand-up triple, mostly because Stanton tried too hard to make a hero catch. A Brian Bogusevic base hit drove Lee in, tying the game and costing Johnson the win.
After thrice putting runners on base only to strand them with a disappointing out, it looked like we were headed for Mudville again. Fortunately, Omar Infante poked a base hit to straightaway center field with the bases loaded, driving home two go-ahead runs in the top of the twelfth inning.
So, a franchise record for wins on a road trip was set. Although my prognostication about this series was wrong, we did go 2-3 against the Astros.
What’s coming up next week is a little tougher. We host the Mets over the weekend, and they have been playing above their expectations. We had a tough time with them in the first meeting this year. I’ll leave it to Ehsan to roll the bones and look at the tea leaves.