American Idol: Florida Marlins

Baseball season is back! And so is my blog….!  After some serious forensic investigations and knocking of a few heads, I was able to finally crack the code that was my forgotten password!  It will be a featured episode on TruTV this summer.

Interested in the Marlins infield competition? (Of COURSE you are)  Want to see who wins the job when the Fish host an American Idol contest of their own? (Of COURSE you do, I mean 150 million people watch American Idol)  Well, check out my other Marlins blog just across the pond.  Thanks very much for reading! Go Marlins!

Miller dominant again

Yes, that is Andrew Miller, and no that headline is not a misprint, although I cannot blame you if you thought that it was the setup to a punchline somehow involving Jorge Julio.  Miller has been impressive the last month (I am shocked too) and ESPN continues to remind all of us why they are the furthest thing from informative as possible.  You can read all about it on the new site for Marlins Musings, as well as many other blogs from fans of the rest of the league on the home page.  Check ‘em out, and root for the Fish!!!!

Miller Time!

As I have said all year long, Andrew Miller is a great young lefty and Jorge Cantu is the best player in the Marlins’ infield…..and if you believe me, then you weren’t reading my blogs.  However, it was largely thanks to these two that the Fish won their second in a row against the Phillies tonight.  You can read my other Marlins Musings blog to get my fair and balanced opinion on tonight’s game.  Or you can watch SportsCenter, but why would you? They were the ones who weren’t even showing Florida highlights most of April.  Fair-weather announcers, I say. 

Marlins miss their Mark as Griffey hits number 600

The Marlins wrapped up their 4 game series with the Reds last night with a 9-4 loss, giving them a split of the series.  Although they did get to Volquez for 3 runs, it wasn’t enough because Hendrickson gave the Fish another one of his middle relief efforts instead of a starting one.  *Puts head in hands and tries not to bash it against the counter*  If you are a happy Reds fan or a masochistic Marlins fan (aren’t we all?) you can get the rest of the scoop on the game by going my other blog here on myteamrivals.com.  Check out the other posts too, there are plenty of other teams to read up on.  But only one place to read about the Fish, which is a good thing for last night’s game.

More Cowbell!

Although Marlins Musings might have pulled a double switch and moved here, let it be known that my loyalty as a Fish fan was never in question.  Nope, I didn’t turn the TV off in the top of the ninth, utter about 35 curse words and basically concede the game. (OK, maybe for just a few minutes).  But like Yogi Berra said (no, not AFLAC), it ain’t over till it’s over!

Starting to get ridiculous

Attention valued blog readers: (all three and a half of you).  Marlins Musings has been shifted to myteamrivals.com.  But for the sake of you loyalists, I will continue to put a link of my latest post here, like so.

And that Philles Braves game tonight was unreal! I can’t believe that Kelly Johnson dropped the pop-up!  Jorge Cantu has got NOTHING on that.  But after watching the way that the Braves beat the Marlins this last week, I can’t say I’m upset with the Atlanta losing a heartbreaker. I hope it happens again tomorrow,

Sigh of relief

Attention valued blog readers. Marlins Musings has moved their location. Simply click here to read it!  Trust me, it is the same content you have come to love (or hate).  But nonetheless, you are just one click away from reading about the big comeback win today!

Maelstrom: (noun) a Scandinavian word for Lindstrom

Call to the bullpen.  These 4 words were the key to the Marlins success for the first 2 months of the season.  Lately, they seem to be the team’s biggest weakness.  Starting with the rubber game in New York when the Marlins relievers blew 2 saves, Lindstrom.jpgthey haven’t been able to recover since.  Last night was just the latest chapter in what is becoming a horror novel penned by what supossed to be the strength of this team (and still is) at the start of the year. It has been a collective meltdown, with Gregg blowing 2 saves, Kensing losing, Waechter getting touched up, Miller blowing a save and losing, and the last two nights Matt Lindstrom giving up runs in the 8th inning. When the bullpen door has opened on this trip, it seemed like it unleashed a black hole into which all Florida leads are consumed.

Matt Lindstom, and I have said this before, reminds me a little bit of Kyle Farnswoth (and that is not a good thing). The reason I say this is that he throws the same kind of pitches. A 96-100mph fastball that looks nice on the radar gun, but it is completely straight.  And I don’tfarnswoth.jpg care if you can throw it 110, if the ball is straight it is easier for a hitter to square it up.  And then he has a good hard slider, but doesn’t always have the best control with it. As a fan who has seen his share of Yankee games in the last 3 years, this is the exact same makeup as Farnsworth.  I personally thought that Linstrom was pitching a little over his head, especially in the Diamonbacks series. Give him credit- he did a good job there- but it was only a matter time until he came back to Earth. He will still have his good moments this season, but I do not trust him as a consistent 8th inning set-up man.

Burke Badenhop (did anyone else see that little hop he does after every pitch? How fitting!) last night settled down after giving up a 3-run homer with nobody out in the first.  He finished 5 innings, and only gave up 3 hits after the first inning.  As the fifth starter on this team, that’s about what you can expect.  He gave the team a chance to win, and Uggla delivered with 2 home runs…off of a tough pitcher too.  It is just unbelievable that when the Marlins put the lead in the bullpen’s hands, they are giving it up.  What else can the team do? If you cannot trust the back end of the pitching staff to hold leads that the team gives them……how do you win games?  Apparently you don’t. Well, this needs to stop.  And it needs to stop now!  In case you haven’t looked, the Braves are now only 1 game behind the Marlins for second place.  And with the direction that these 2 teams are headed, objects in the rear-view mirror ARE much closer than they appear.

Mark Hendrickson vs. Tom Glavine today.  Scouts might as well leave the radar guns turned off in this one.  The good news is that the Marlins have had a lot of success agaisnt Glavine throughout his Hall-of-Fame career.  The bad news, Hendrickson is coming off his worst start ever.  I’m just going to wear my pajamas inside out and do a rain dance.  Hey, if the game gets rained out, the Marlins can’t lose!

From bad to worse, on the field and in the clubhouse

gregg.jpg*“You can look to us for giving up a few runs here and there, but we’re going to give up runs throughout the year. One thing we’ve got to do is, we can’t be giving them runs — in a sense — defensively. We’ve just got to simplify the game and get back to the basic things of fielding the ball, throwing the ball. It’s going to take a little bit off the pitchers when we do that.” ~The words of one Mr. Kevin Gregg, who blew the save last night when the tying run scored on a wild pitch. Here is some more of what he had to say…..

*”We had it. We had it right there. I got a ground ball that most of the time would be a double play. Tonight it didn’t turn out that way.” ~On the ground ball to Cantu who had to hesitate for just a second (this one wasn’t Cantu’s fault) because if he threw right away to second base, he would have taken off Jeff Francoeur’s head. The slight hesitation allowed the runner enough time to get to first….

*”With the wild pitch, it was a pitch that I liked, and I’d throw it again. I threw it again on the next pitch, with the winning run on third. So I didn’t change my approach any.” ~On the wild pitch that tied the game

Translation: “Don’t look at me, I mean I didn’t give up a hit.  I got a ground ball that should
wha wha.jpghave ended the game.  I made the hitter swing and miss on a bad pitch.  It’s not like I got pounded out there.  They tied the game because stupid Rabelo couldn’t handle my slider in the dirt.  Yea, so what if I walked a couple of batters?  There are 8 other guys with gloves out there, and they have to make the plays, not me.  I just throw it, man. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the strike zone or not, I did my job. I wish the others would do theirs. It doesn’t matter when I make mistakes, that just means that my teammates have to be perfect behind me. And if they aren’t, well don’t look at me, look at them. Whaa. Whaaa. And my daddy didn’t let me put sugar on my frosted flakes either.”

I am certainly no psychologist, but does anyone else sense an air of animosity and lack of accountability by the Marlins closer?  I mean, it wasn’t the shoddy defense that WALKED 2 Braves in the 9th inning.  Last time I checked Mr. Gregg, walks are the pitcher’s fault.  If you hadn’t put runners on base perhaps a double play wouldn’t have been necessary.  By him saying that the defense can’t give away runs, he was obviously referring to the wild pitch that tied the game, but when you walk the leadoff hitter, and a free-swinging hitter at that, you are begging for trouble.  Living in New Jersey, I don’t really get a feel for the mood of the Marlins’ clubhouse because I can’t read the local papers and watch the pre and post game interviews at all.  I hope that there isn’t some dissension in the clubhouse between Gregg and some of the everyday position players.  I’m sure Kevin was frustrated- we all are given the way the games have gone the past week- but can he step up and accept some of the blame for the loss? I mean after all, your team gave you the ball with the lead in the 9th inning.  They did their job.  I know closers blow saves, it’s part of the ebb and flow of the season, but have some class when you fail, and not pass the buck and deflect the blame to others. That makes a good teammate.

This loss hurts, as most of the ones on the road trip have so far. There were a lot of good signs in this game that the loss covered up: Olsen turned in a good start.  I know he gave up 2 home runs, but he kept his team in the game and ate up 6 innings. His velocity seemed better too, as he threw several pitches 90-91 mph. Dan Uggla hit 2 more doubles, and just missed a third one by inches that would have scored 2 runs.  Joe Nelson got Chipper Jones out with the bases loaded to keep the deficit at 1 heading into the 9th; He has been pretty consistent in his short time with the team.  Also, the Marlins rallied against Smoltz to take the lead.  Treanor hit a double, Helms hit a rope to left, and Hermida got the one big hit that the Marlins have been looking for the better part of a week.  With 2 outs he hit a high fastball the other way to left which gave the Marlins the lead.  I really thought that was going to be the big hit that got this team out of the rut they are in and give them some momentum.  To take the lead against Smoltz in Atlanta with 2 outs in the 9th? Hits don’t come any bigger than that.  Unfortunately, it just set the stage for a bigger heartbreak when Kensing eventually gave up the 2 run homer to Escobar in the 10th.

Now the Marlins face the tough task of having to take 3 in a row against the team with one of the best home records in the NL just to make this a 5-5 trip.   The will and heart of this team will be tested in the coming weeks.  They have lost a bunch of tough games lately, and how they do or do not rebound will tell a lot about how the rest of the season will go. I don’t know how many more ways they can find to lose a game, and they have to start winning now. 

*”It was not the most ideal end in the game for us, but we had some comebacks there, we scored runs when we were down. We were down and we came back. And we were down, and we came back again. So there are positives to take, but obviously it didn’t end on a positive.”~ Marlins starter Scott Olsen. That’s the right thing to say, (Mr. Gregg) and hopefully the team rest of the team will have the same attitude and come out fresh and ready tonight

Badenhop vs. Campillo tonight. Campillo is just a 5 inning pitcher, but he has not given up many runs, as evidenced by his 0.99 ERA. Tough task again for the Fish tonight, but they must turn this losing skid around, because I get the sense that the season is on the brink of spiraling out of control if they don’t.  Let’s go Marlins!

*All quotes are thanks to the Florida Marlins website.  Although this citation is certainly not in MLA format, (it’s OK. I doubt my old English teachers are reading anyway) the lawyer in me says I have to attribute them to the proper source, because I certainly didn’t ask the players the questions.  If I did, I think Gregg would have banned me from the locker room forever.

Strike Three! Who knew?

called strike 3.jpgWhat is up with Hanley Ramirez lately?  I know he had 2 hits yesterday, but it seems as if the last month or so that teams have figured out how to pitch to him with 2 strikes.  All they have to do is throw him a fastball on the outer half of the plate and he will just take it for a called third strike and go sit down. (Just like Gordon did yesterday) And for a hitter who goes to right field very well, this is a little alarming.  I could understand if he was a dead pull hitter, but Ramirez is at his best when he is shooting the ball the right field; something he still has done during this funk early in the count.  It just seems that when he gets to two strikes, for whatever reason, he will not even try to foul off a pitch away.  I don’t understand what is going on with him, but this needs to get corrected. It is becoming more and more frustrating, maddening and a hazard to my mental health to just watch him take very hittable pitches for called strike three after called strike three.  SWING THE BAT!

Look, I am all for a hitter being patient even when he has 2 strikes on him, but he hasHanley.jpg become TOO passive at the plate lately.  If Hanley would just swing the bat and foul a pitch or two off with 2 strikes, it would go a long way in helping his offense.  You can’t just continue to sit there and take a strike again and again and again.  I’m sure Presley is working with Hanley on this, but it needs to get turned around soon.  It is too easy to blame all of this on the contract that Ramirez signed, but I do understand this slump does coincide with it.  I’m not going to go there yet, but Hanley must change his approach at the plate, because pitchers will continue to attack him the same way until he does……And my consumption of liquor will continue to skyrocket as a result.

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