Wanted: Base Hits
Without Fixing Hitting, the Marlins are in Trouble
Last night, the Marlins’ MLB-trailing batting average with runners in scoring position was once again instrumental in a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite another quality start from Anibal Sanchez and solid, effective relief performances by Steve Cishek, Randy Choate, and Ryan Webb, the Marlins only managed to score twice. One run was a Hanley Ramirez solo shot into the cheap seats, and the other was an Emilio Bonifacio single that put Logan Morrison across in the fourth.
The bottom of the eighth was the best shot to tie up the game when Jose Reyes reached with a bloop to shallow left field. Infante K’ed, and then Hanley Ramirez moved Reyes to third with a strong single to right. Unfortunately, the tying run got stranded again, as Morrison went down swinging, and Stanton popped out to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, John Buck made a picture-perfect kill shot from his knees to put Alex Presley over his mantle, bringing him to an outstanding 16-7 for the year.
Folks, the Marlins simply cannot keep depending on heroic home runs, come-from-behind Cinderella stories and grand-slam walkoffs to put notches in the Win column. The top of our lineup is starting to do their job and get on base, but the middle of the order continues to struggle to put a man on second base across the plate. The team batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP) is a dismal .201, and just .235 overall (26th ).
Our rotation continues to pitch extraordinarily well, but their win stats don’t reflect their pitching due to lack of run support. Off to a shaky start, the bullpen has been pitching better lately, with Steve Cishek taking the role of the go-to guy in the ‘pen.
The Marlins have one player batting above .300, and the first baseman is below the Mendoza Line. In order to move up in what is proving to be one of the two toughest divisions in baseball, the Marlins have got to work some extra hours in the cages to learn how to start cranking out singles to the right side of the diamond. During the last road trip, plate discipline looked like it was getting better; back home, it seems like the outs on first-pitch choppers to the infield are going back up.
The bad news about basic journeyman hitting is clear, and the Marlins will languish until it’s fixed. In the meantime, Marlins fans can enjoy some of the most effective and exciting offense in baseball when they do get runners aboard. Emilio Bonifacio is 18-0 for stolen bases, and Reyes is 9-4. Opposing batteries are starting to develop facial tics and poor sleeping patterns when they know they have to hold them at first.
Ozzie Guillen does an excellent job at keeping defenses on their toes, but his rationale for moving Boney to the seven-hole isn’t clear just yet., unless he plans on having his pitchers bunt more than they are right now.
Prediction: Josh Johnson will have another good outing, and a few of the Marlins’ hitters will find the six-square-foot area between the foul poles that Andrew McCutchen can’t quite get to, and Bonifacio will be 20-0. Marlins by three to split the quickstand.