Classic National League small ball was the name of the game, and the Marlins played it better than the Nationals did. Baserunners were bunted around, followed by base hits behind the runners.
Mark Buehrle pitched a gem of a game, notching seven strikeouts and yielding only one earned run in seven innings. His front-door curve straddled the black, and his changeup was particularly effective against the heart of the Nationals order. Randy Choate came in as a LOOGY in the top of the eighth, followed by an outstanding Steve Cishek 5-out save.
Carlos Lee logged his first RBI single as a Marlin.
One of the notable performances of the game came from John Buck. While his bat is still on vacation somewhere out of cell phone range, his game-calling abilities really shone against the Nationals. It’s a subject rarely discussed, as it’s difficult to quantify and track via statistical measurement. The knowledge of opposing hitters and the situational awareness necessary to call a good game is definitely not a commodity, but it’s skill that Buck continues to demonstrate. I don’t have an accurate count for last night’s game, but I suspect that Buehrle shook off fewer than five of Buck’s signals.
Another factor that led to the win was the return of Emilio Bonifacio. It seemed as if the entire lineup was running more aggressively, as though Boney’s speed is contagious. We stole four bases last night, including a nifty double steal by Omar Infante and Carlos Lee.
Prediction: Nationals by four runs. I’m also seeing no-hitter potential in the tea leaves.