Somehow the Miami Marlins finished their road trip with an 8-1 mark. In a matter of 10 days they managed to improve their record from 8-14 to a respectable 16-15. I’m still trying to figure out how they did it?
Playing error-prone teams like the Giants and Padres certainly helped. Regardless of the level of competition it’s very difficult to have back to back three game sweeps on the west coast, but that’s exactly what the Marlins did. They scored a grand total of 8 runs in three games vs. the Giants and managed to squeak out three one run victories. After taking Northern CA they went to beautiful San Diego and took the first game 9-8 in a wild game before “blowing” the Pods out 4-1 on Saturday and 6-3 in the finale last Sunday.
When the Marlins went into Houston riding that 6 game streak, one had the sense that they could sweep the road trip. Houston has their problems even though they play hard and don’t give up. As it turned out, the Marlins did come close to the sweep. If it wasn’t for a very uncharacteristic error by 2B Omar Infante in the middle game of the series, the Marlins were looking at a 9-0 trip. Now the Marlins come home to play the surging New York Mets fresh off a three game sweep of their own against the Phillies in Philadelphia. The thing that will carry the Marlins through the home stand is the same thing that got them through the road trip – pitching.
The Marlins aren’t hitting the ball well. They are batting .194 with RISP yet they’re over .500. The only way this can happen is with pitching. That being said, the success of the last two weeks includes the continued implosion of Heath Bell. The result is Bell being stripped of his closer role for the time-being. Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica will act as the closer team for now. No doubt that Bell will get the chance to win back his position soon enough.
The starting quarter of Sanchez, Nolasco, Zambrano, and Buehrle were outstanding on the trip. They pitched deep into games and gave the situational relievers to come in and do their jobs. Zambrano and Buehrle didn’t need relief as they both pitched complete games. Though J.J. continues to struggle, he pitched well in the finale vs. the Astros. The old adage that pitching and defense wins games certainly has some traction when it comes to the Marlins of the last two weeks. Some of the bats show signs of life, but if they can keep pitching they will compete and be in every game.