Well, the Marlins finally beat R.A. Dickey, his knuckleball, and the Mets. In fact, in this swan song of a series, with nothing on the line and nothing to be gained, the Marlins and their fans shrugged off all of the disappointments and acrimony of a miserable season and hosted a ballgame with style, warmth, and panache. They exemplified the best aspects of baseball while exhibiting none of the worst.
It started with Jeffrey Loria’s decision to shed the skinflint image of a MLB team owner and extend the offer of a one-day contract to Adam Greenberg. His story has been well-covered elsewhere, so I won’t belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that Marlins ownership exhibited more class and humanity than did the Cubs’ Ricketts family.
After plenty of time with the media before the game, Greenberg took BP with the team, waited his turn, and when it came his turn to pinch-hit for Brian Peterson in the sixth inning, walked to the plate to the sounds of a standing ovation from one of the largest crowds of the season: 29,709, according to the box score. As a minimum, Greenberg is one of the team’s best box office draws of the year. Almost as a footnote, he struck out in three Dickey pitches. He went back to the dugout to another ovation, including a full round of attaboys from his teammates. Post-game, Ozzie Guillen presented him with the official lineup card from his first AB as a major-leaguer, seven years after his callup. I expect to see him at an open tryout this spring.
Not to be outdone, rookie ace Jacob Turner pitched an ovation-earner of a game, going 7 2/3 innings, yielding his only run in the eighth inning. Not showing any signs of applause fatigue, his departure lifted the crowd to its feet in appreciation of an outstanding effort, and one that I fervently hope is an omen of a devastating rotation for the 2013 Marlins.
As has been typical of the season, however, since there was a comfortable 3-run lead in the last third of the eighth, it took three relievers (Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, and Heath Bell) to blow the lead before the ball came to Steve Cishek in a 0-out ninth inning. Cishek gave up one hit to get three strikeouts, but the damage was done. I suspect that Bell won’t be able to throw batting practice anywhere in South Florida without a chorus of catcalls from the gallery.
Relievers Ryan Webb and Chad Gaudin held the line for the defense in the extra innings, and Donovan Solano put the finishing touch on the game with a seeing-eye ground ball up the middle that drove Jose Reyes across the plate for the win.
Gaudin’s appearance in the eleventh inning nixes him for the start today, and there was some speculation that Mark Buehrle would step back into his spot in the rotation, but manager Ozzie Guillen has indicated that righty Tom Koehler will get the nod.