Josh Johnson, Heath Bell struggle again, Infante leads Marlins to extra innings win


The Miami Marlins have now won four straight games. You would think that Ozzie Guillen and his team would be relaxed and finally enjoying the 2012 season. Unfortunately, not the case. The Miami Marlins won again late Friday night in a game that went to extra innings against the San Diego Padres.

However, it is not a good thing when your manager feels like this, even after a win:

"”There’s a lot going on,” Guillen said. ”We have a lot of concerns.”"

The two biggest concerns for the Marlins remain, Josh Johnson and Heath Bell.


The game started out perfectly for the Marlins. Jose Reyes got a lead off-single, advanced to second on a wild pitch, Emilio Bonifacio then walked, and Hanley Ramirez lined a three-run home run to left field. The Marlins were not in the first inning yet. After Greg Dobbs grounded out, Omar Infante beat out an infield single. Giancarlo Stanton came up next and blasted a two-run shot to deep center field.

Just like that, the Marlins had a 5-0 lead before their ace even took the mound. This felt like a game that the Marlins were going to win easily.

Josh Johnson was unable to hold that lead and it was very obvious early on that Johnson did not have his best stuff. In the first inning, after recording the first two outs fairly easily, Johnson allowed two singles and plunked Chase Headley to load the bases before striking out Orlando Hudson to end the inning.

The third inning was the inning that everything unraveled for the Marlins. After the Marlins first two hitters reached in the top of the inning, San Diego Padres pitcher Anthony Bass was able to retire the next three hitters to get out of the inning. Boy, do the Marlins wish they could have cashed in with that opportunity.

In the bottom of the third, Josh Johnson fell apart and did not even make it out of the inning. Johnson threw 36 of his 67 pitches in the third.

Johnson opened the inning by walking Will Venable. Johnson then got Mark Kotsay to pop out, but allowed a run-scoring double to Chase Headley. Johnson was then able to induce a ground ball out to retire Yonder Alonso for the second out of the inning. The Marlins and Johnson were looking poised to take a 5-1 lead into the fourth inning. Tragically, the Marlins did not leave the third inning with the lead or their ace.

Nick Hundley roped a double and Orlando Hudson made up for his first inning strikeout with a run-scoring single. All of a sudden, the Marlins lead shrunk to just 5-3. Hudson stole second base when Brett Hayes, starting in the place of John Buck, again, short hopped a throw to second. Johnson then walked former Marlin Cameron Maybin and Jason Bartlett to load the bases for Anthony Bass, the pitcher. Perfect chance to get out of the inning with the lead in tact?

No, Bass lined a base hit, one that should have been just a single, that got passed Stanton and cleared the bases. The young pitchers first Major League hit was a three-run triple. The Padres had a 6-5 lead. Johnson was immediately removed and Dan Jennings was brought in to make his second big league appearance.

Josh Johnson was not too happy with himself following the game:

"“Physically, I feel good,” he said. “When you throw the ball in the middle of the plate, it’s going to get hit. If you look at all of them, right down the middle. I’m wearing my bullpen out, which kills me, especially today. We get the five runs early, and then just squander that lead like that. It’s unacceptable.”"

The Marlins were able to tie the game back up in the top of the fourth inning, after Jose Reyes beat out a double and scored on a balk. Reyes, on third base, was able to put pressure on Bass with his speed and when he faked to steal home, Bass stepped off, causing the balk and the tie ball game.

The score remained the same until the bottom half of the fifth inning. Chad Gaudin was the pitcher for the Marlins.  A single by Mark Kotsay would score Bass to give the Padres a 7-6 lead.

Anthony Bass finished the game going six innings and Luke Gregorson replaced him in the top of the seventh inning. Gregorson walked Bonifacio with one out. With the Padres expecting Boni to steal, they decided to pitch out, the pitch got away from Gregorson, allowing Boni to take second. After Hanley popped out, Greg Dobbs lined a single to score Bonifacio, Dobbs alertly got to second base on the play, which set up nicely when Omar Infante picked up a base hit to score Dobbs. This gave the Marlins a 7-6 lead in the seventh.

Ryan Webb pitched the bottom of the seventh for the Marlins. After striking out the first two hitter, Webb allowed an infield single. Webb was done and Randy Choate was brought in. After two passed balls and a walk, the Padres had runners on the corners, trailing by just one. Choate was able to settle down and get Kotsay to ground out to end the inning.

The Marlins went down one-two-three in the eight inning, the only eventful play during that inning was when Reyes laid down a bunt, it seemed like he was going to beat it out, but he was running inside the base paths, so the umpires called him out on runners interference to end the inning. Choate was able to retire the Padres easily in the bottom of the inning and the Marlins went down without a fight in the top of the ninth.

This set up another save opportunity for struggling closer, Heath Bell.

The save opportunity did not start the way Bell wanted it to. Jesus Guzman lined a double down the right field line, and Cameron Maybin would tie up the game with his very own double. Barlett then put down a sac bunt to move Maybin to third base with one out. A game the Marlins lead 5-0 after one inning was looking like a game they would end up losing.

With one out, the Marlins opted to walk Andy Parrino to set up a double play. Bell was then able to strikeout Chris Denorfia before the Marlins decided to intentionally walk Kotsay to load the bases. Bell was then able to induce a ground ball to get out of the inning. The Marlins had successfully blown a 5-0 lead and a 8-7 lead to allow the game to go into extras.

No scoring opportunity action took place until the bottom of the eleventh. Former Marlin John Baker had a chance to drive in a former Marlin, Maybin, to win the game. Steve Cishek was able to get him to ground out to end the inning.

In the twelvth inning, Hanley Ramirez led the inning off with a walk. After Dobbs struck out, Omar Infante lined a double to the gap in left-center. Hanley Ramirez was able to score from first base on the play, and the Marlins had a 9-8 lead in extra innings. The Padres then walked Stanton to get Cishek to the plate, with no one available to pitch, Cishek hit for himself and laid down a beautiful sac bunt. Infante did not get a good jump and was thrown out at third. Brett Hayes struck out to end the inning.

Cishek was able to pitch out of a mini-jam in the ninth inning, his third inning of work, to ensure the Marlins with a 9-8 win, their fourth consecutive win.

The game lasted4 hours and 45 minutes and ended at 2:52 A.M. EDT. I was able to watch most of the game, but was falling asleep on my bed watching extra innings. I did catch Infante’s big hit, but I do not recall watching Cishek pitch at all. The Marlins won, so that is all that matters.

Apparently the reason for Cishek’s strong three inning, 52-pitch performance was gummy bears. This is what Cishek told Frank Forte after the game:

"“Gummy Bears are Delicious”"

They certainly are Cishek, maybe give some to Heath Bell to help him?

Ozzie Guillen was noncommittal when it came to saying who was the Marlins closer after the game:

"“Bell continues to struggle,” Guillen said. “We will recheck tomorrow what will be that situation, closing. We’ve got to do something about it. We can’t be waiting any more. Then we’ll figure out tomorrow. We might talk to him about it."

Tonight, Mark Buehrle will take the mound for the Marlins, looking to rebound from his struggles in his last start. He will be opposed by Clayton Richard for the Padres.

Prediction: The Marlins continue their winning streak behind a complete game shutout from Buehrle. The Marlins win the game 4-0.

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