Since 2006, when the current nucleus of the Marlins took form, Florida has gone 7-14 at Citizens Bank Park. Scoring runs hasn't been the problem. Preventing them has. The Phillies have scored 137 runs in those 21 games.
But the Marlins' 7-3 win on Saturday provided a perfect example of what it takes to win here: pitching. Ricky Nolasco held the Phillies to two runs over 6 2/3 innings, and Philadelphia managed to total only three runs after producing a whopping 60 in their previous five games -- all wins.
Of the Marlins' seven wins at Citizens Bank since '06, six have been when they've held the Phillies to three runs or less, as they did Saturday. Their only other win was an 11-5 victory.
No wonder Fredi Gonzalez told reporters before Saturday's game that his "stomach turns" every time a Phillie steps into the batter's box.
After testing his injured left hand and thumb with several clean cuts in the batting cage, shortstop Hanley Ramirez proclaimed himself fit to play and was penciled into the leadoff spot for Saturday's game vs. the Phillies -- weather permitting.
It has been raining off and on in Philadelphia for most of the afternoon, and the field at Citizens Bank Park is covered. But forecasts call for the rain to end no later than 8 p.m. Then again, forecasts this time of year are unpredictable, and the Philly area is under a tornado watch until 5 p.m.
Ramirez was injured on Friday when a sinking line drive off the bat of Shane Victorino caught the heel of his left hand, near his thumb. He left the game in the fifth inning and iced the hand at the team hotel overnight.
He said the swelling had subsided considerably and he felt no discomfort when he tested it inside the batting cage about 3 p.m.
"I took a couple of swings and I didn't feel anything," Ramirez said. "I didn't feel anything and I told (manager Fredi Gonzalez) I could play."
Without further ado, here are the lineups:
Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, RF Jeremy Hermida, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Wes Helms, 2B Dan Uggla, LF Luis Gonzalez, CF Cody Ross, C Matt Treanor, P Ricky Nolasco.
Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins, CF Shane Victorino, 2B Chase Utley, 1B Ryan Howard, LF Pat Burrell, RF Geoff Jenkins, 3B Pedro Feliz, C Carlos Ruiz, P Cole Hamels.
Hanley Ramirez left Friday's game after he took a sinking line drive off the heel of his left hand. But X-rays were negative and, though the area beneath his thumb was swollen, it doesn't look like the injury is cause for alarm.
"Hopefully it'll feel better (Saturday)," Ramirez said.
Shane Victorino's line drive in the fourth inning caught Ramirez in the hand, just below the heel of his glove. Alfredo Amezaga took over for him at shortstop in the fifth inning.
Ramirez said he was having trouble squeezing his thumb but that he intended to ice it down once he got back to his hotel room.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said it wouldn't surprise him if Ramirez was in the linup Saturday.
Here are tonight's lineups:
Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, RF Jeremy Hermida, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Mike Jacobs, 2B Dan Uggla, LF Luis Gonzalez, C Matt Treanor, CF Jacque Jones, P Mark Hendrickson.
Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins, CF Shane Victorino, 2B Chase Utley, 1B Ryan Howard, LF Pat Burrell, 3B Pedro Feliz, C Chris Coste, RF So Taguchi, P Brett Myers.
The Marlins have placed Chris Volstad, one of their top minor-league pitching prospects. on the 7-day disabled list with a strained right triceps muscle. The move is retroactive to May 28.
Volstad last pitched on Tuesday, completing seven innings and allowing a run on five hits in his start against Tennessee.
Cheers from the City of Brotherly Love, where the sports fans are obnoxious (and darn proud of it) and the Marlins hold an onion paper-thin lead over the Phillies in the division standings as they prepare to face each other for the first time this season.
Philly hasn't been a friendly place to the Marlins over the years. They're a miserable 41-74 here all-time and 10-19 at Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004. Everyone is expecting a slugfest considering the Phils and Marlins are 1-2 in the majors in home runs.
The weather this morning is spectacular, so no hint of the "R" word.
THE "U" FACTOR
A lot of the attention this series will be on the two second basemen, Dan Uggla and Chase Utley. Utley leads the majors with 16 home runs. Uggla is tied for second with 15.
But Utley is also closing in on an obscure record: most career home runs by a player whose last name begins with the letter "U." That record is held by Willie Upshaw, the old Toronto Blue Jay who swatted 123 over a career that lasted from 1978-88.
At the moment, Utley is sitting on 114. Dan Uggla has 74, but if he keeps ringing up 12 dingers a month the rest of the season, as he has so far in May, he'll be right there with Upshaw: 122 home runs by my projection.
Meanwhile, Del Unser's record for most career hits by a player with a "U" last name looks like it'll survive awhile longer. Unser, a master pinch-hitter in his time (just ask Dan Quisenberry), finished with 1,344 hits. Utley (with 705), still has a ways to go, as does Uggla (386).
OK,it may not be freezing at Shea, but the writers from South Florida (two of us didn't bring our fleece wear) can barely type because it's so cold - and it's only the third inning. It's going to get a lot colder as this game wears on and we might be pouring hot coffee on each other before we get to the seventh-inning stretch.
Idon't know what is harder to believe -- this cold weather or the fact Luis Castillo hit a home run.
According to the big league stats, Luis has hit two homers this season (the first came against Tom Glavine on May 20).
Luis never had this kind of power with the Marlins. He was with Florida for 10 seasons, and in the Castillo Decade Luis hit only 20 homers as a Marlin.
He hit a career-high six for the 2003 World Series champs.
The hotel where the Marlins stay in New York was ready for Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez this week. Last year Fredie walked into a glass door and injured his nose.
"They put up some big plants there so you can't walk into (the door),'' Gonzalez said. "I don't know if those plants are there all the time, or if they just put them there when I'm in town and then take them out when I leave.''
Maybe it shouldn't surprise anyone to see the Marlins getting more attention from media outside South Florida.
It's a short train ride from Philly to New York, but two of the nation's finest baseball writers --- Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Dailey News and Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Enquirer -- showed up in New York Wednesday to work on stories about the Marlins.
Fredi didn't just tweak his lineup Wednesday, he overhauled it for the final game in the three game series against the Mets, who started left-hander Oliver Perez.
Gonzalez gave left-handers left-fielder Luis Gonzalez, first baseman Mike Jacobs and right fielder Jeremy Hermida the night off, and started Cody Ross in left field, Wes Helms at first and Alfredo Amezaga in center and left-handed hitting Jacque Jones in right field. He also gave Matt Treanor a night off and started catcher Mike Rabelo in his place.
Jones hit second behind Hanley Ramirez and Helms hit in the cleanup spot.
Fredi said he liked the idea of Jones hitting behind Hanley.
Mets manager Willie Randolph used the same all-right handed lineup that beat Marlins lefty Andrew Miller on Tuesday.