Wow. It was like seeing the same movie again on the next night. Yesterday, battling triple-digit on-field temperatures, and an awful outing by Josh Johnson, the Marlins took an early lead, fell behind in the middle innings, tied things back up late, and went ahead to victory in the 10th inning. This time, however, Heath Bell did not (although I sure thought that Corey Hart’s shot was headed that way) give up the long ball, even though the bases were filling up quickly.
Josh Johnson only made it through five innings yesterday, giving up five earned runs on six hits with three walks. The weakest start for Johnson in the last ten, he did not appear to have enough bite on his breaking balls, and his fastball location took some time to dial in. Chad Gaudin, Mike Dunn, Wade LeBlanc, and Heath Bell stepped in to finish the job. The bullpen yielded one run on five hits, with two walks.
After a disastrous 5-run bottom half of the second inning, the game looked to be a letdown through the sixth. Justin Ruggiano and Logan Morrison changed the forecast considerably in the top of the seventh, bringing the Marlins to within one run on Ruggiano’s solo shot and Morrison’s 3-run round-tripper. During the seventh inning, the telecast broke the news of the Carlos Lee deal (not a great deal, perhaps, but a decent deal. More on that news from Ehsan), and the camera spent considerably more time on Gaby Sanchez as the implications of the trade were discussed.
Despite a hitting meltdown that will be remembered for many years, and the news of a trade almost guaranteed to send him back to the bus leagues, Gaby singled in the seventh, and supplied the final, key piece of the Marlins rally. In the top of the ninth, with two outs, and an 0-2 count, Gaby Sanchez hit a game-tying home run.
At our house, the table was being cleared, crumbs were being swept, and fingers were poised over remote controls. “Gaby is a guaranteed out” was the universal sentiment. How nice to be so eloquently reminded of the fluid nature of a baseball game. The crack of the bat and the rising pitch of the announcer’s voice reset the entire dynamic of our living room. I’m also very happy for Gaby to be able to finish what will most likely be his last appearance this year as a Marlin on such a strong note.
A Donovan Solano double, followed by a Hanley Ramirez single, put the Marlins ahead by one run in the tenth. After an adrenalin-inducing double by the speedy Rickie Weeks, Heath Bell struck out Martin Maldonado and pitched an easy 6-3 grounder to Taylor Green to end the game.
Tonight, Mark Buehrle faces rookie Mike Fiers to try and force the Brewers to yield a split for the series. Fiers has a 2.29 ERA, and a 3-2 record over 7 games. He has logged 42 strikeouts and has given up only ten earned runs. I suspect he will be a tough nut for our hitters to crack. Also, Mark Buehrle will need to keep the ball away from sluggers like Corey Hart and Ryan Braun. A 2-2 push on the series may be out of reach, unless guys like Hanley and Ruggiano continue to hit well. I suspect that the game may roll one way or the other on a single error. But I’m an optimist, so…
Prediction: Marlins by one in the lowest-scoring game of the series.
Final note: The results of Giancarlo Stanon’s MRI: “loose bodies” in his knee. He remains day-to-day, and it may cost him his HRD appearance. Bummer.
Topics: Carlos Lee, Chad Gaudin, Corey Hart, Donovan Solano, Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, Josh Johnson, Justin Ruggiano, Logan Morrison, Mark Buehrle, Martin Maldonado, Miami Marlins, Mike Dunn, Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Taylor Green, Wade LeBlanc