September 25, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Nate Eovaldi (24) pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
At Turner Field last night, sans Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins demonstrated once again that they’re perfectly capable of winning ball games, if our guys were playing to statistical norms. Going into the ninth with a 3-2 lead, Adam Dunn served up a meatball that Freddie Freeman air-mailed to the cheap seats in center field.
Donovan Solano tatered for the first time…and the second. Knocking in all three Miami runs with a solo shot in the second and a two-run blast in the seventh, Solano looks to be developing as a long-term asset for the Marlins.
On Defense, Nathan Eovaldi had another high-quality start, notching eight K’s in six innings with two earned runs. However, Ozzie Guillen was reluctant to put in the recently-weak-against-lefties Steve Cishek, so he sent in Dunn to close the door. After yielding a leadoff double to Chipper Jones, Dunn ended the game on the third pitch to Freeman. With that hit, the Braves cemented their wild-card bid. Celebration ensued.
It certainly seems that if you broke a game down to four factors; hitting, fielding, starters, and bullpen, the Marlins seem to have had three of the four this season. The missing piece has been rotating from factor to factor, and costing games. Of the four factors, the two that stick out the most have been hitting and relief pitching. On the days we hit well, the bullpen threw cotton balls. On days that the pitching dominated opponents throughout the game, we couldn’t bat runners across the plate.
The turmoil in the closer’s role has been a dominant theme this season, and needs to be unequivocally corrected before February. As for hitting, I suspect that roster moves to build a lineup of strong singles and doubles hitters around Stanton, Ruggiano, Reyes, Bonifacio, and Solano could prove to be the catalyst for a dominating 2013 offense.