With any luck, the Marlins have taken off the hobnailed boots and put away the cast-iron skillet gloves they wore last night in a 3-error (it would have been four, but one got overturned) loss to the Dodgers. Tonight, they face arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Clayton Kershaw has been putting up both Cy Young and MVP numbers this year, and looks to tally win no. 13 in today’s afternoon tilt in Miami.
Henderson Alvarez will take the mound first, just after lunchtime. Alvarez is 2-2 on the year, but has pitched far better than his win/loss record shows; another victim of the anemic run support that has been the hallmark of the Marlins’ season. As good as Alvarez can be, he’ll have to do better than the fourth inning of his last start. Also, he’ll have to surprise Adrian Gonzalez, who seems to already have Alvarez figured out. Gonzalez has a .385 average against Alvarez in the last 13 ABs.
There’s not much to add about Clayton Kershaw that hasn’t been said in almost every media outlet, including the Davenport, Iowa crop report. He’s sporting a 1.80 ERA and a 2.38 FIP. It says a lot that our best batting average against Kershaw belongs to Jeff Mathis. We’ll really need Giancarlo Stanton’s recent hot streak to continue to have much of a chance to win today.
Since Alvarez is kind of a pitch-to-contact guy, defensive mistakes will prove costly, especially against the hard-hitting heart of the Dodger lineup. The Dodgers haven’t lost a series since mid-June, and have won 13 of the last 17. A win today would go a long ways toward establishing the credibility of the young Marlins offense, and it will prove that the Dodgers are indeed human.