The Marlins, led by an abbreviated start by Wade LeBlanc, opened the third game of the Atlanta series with a three-run inning that the Braves were unable to answer. Good performances by the bullpen arms of Carlos Zambrano, Heath Bell, Mike Dunn, and Steve Cishek held the Braves on the reservation in a 4-2 victory last night.
Notable performances included Jose Reyes’ extension of his hitting streak to one game shy of a career-best 20 games. If not for an umpire’s inability to see puffs of chalk and an acrobatic snag from Atlanta shortstop Paul Janish, Reyes’ hit stat would have read “5” instead of “2.” Carlos Lee hit 3 consecutive RBI singles, and the battery tallied two doubles. The Marlins went 4-9 on team RISP, a considerable improvement, but still stranded 8 runners on 12 base hits.
The game also marked the Miami debut of trade deadline acquisition (from Pittsburgh) Gorkys Hernandez, who entered the game at left field in the seventh inning. He struck out in his only AB.
Wade LeBlanc made his first start as a Marlin, going 4 1/3 innings with 5 hits, 1 walk and one earned run on 3 strikeouts. Manager Ozzie Guillen, in an effort to ease LeBlanc into a starter’s greater pitch count demand, set a 75-pitch limit on LeBlanc, bringing Zambrano in on relief after 71 pitches. When Guillen went to the mound to relieve LeBlanc, it was clear that he felt he was strong enough to continue, and he tried to make a case for himself.
Defensively, the team played well, turning three double plays and committing no errors.
Tonight, the Marlins will try to force the Braves to a push before leaving for Washington for the middle series of the 3-stop road trip. Nathan Eovaldi makes his second start as a Marlin, facing 24-year-old lefty Mike Minor. Eovaldi did very well in his first outing out of the Dodger Blue. Both Ozzie Guillen and catcher John Buck are impressed with Eovaldi, commenting on the command of his 96 MPH fastball, and his willingness to use a wide spread of pitches and locations. Minor had a rough start this year, with a 6.20 ERA at the end of June, but excellent outings in July have lowered it to 5.18.
Prediction: It’s high time the Marlins regressed to better baseball, and it looks like Eovaldi is the man to lead it. Bats have been much better lately, and the dreaded RISP number is improving. Marlins by three.