« August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

53 posts from September 2008

September 25, 2008

Dreary (plus lineups)

         The weather remains gloomy, and the forecast is not promising. Nonetheless, here are the lineups as Fredi Gonzalez rests a few more regulars in advance of the big weekend series against the Mets:

         Marlins: 2B Alfredo Amezaga, RF Jeremy Hermida, LF Josh Willingham, 1B Mike Jacobs, CF Cody Ross, 3B Dallas McPherson, SS Robert Andino, C Matt Treanor, P Anibal Sanchez.

         Nationals: 2B Emilio Bonifacio, SS Cristian Guzman, CF Lastings Milledge, RF Elijah Dukes, LF Willie Harris, 1B Kory Casto, C Luke Montz, 3B Pete Orr, P Collin Balester.

Storm Approaching

A pretty large and messy storm system is working its way up the eastern seaboard and I would be surprised if tonight's game gets played here in D.C. based on the forecast. Calling off tonight's game, if it comes to that, would not be a big deal since it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme outside of gate receipts and individual stats.

But the storm system is working its way up toward New York, which could create a major headache. The Mets are tied with the Brewers for the wild card and remain within striking distance of the division-leading Phillies. So the Mets/Marlins series this weekend is huge. If the weather turns out as bad as everyone fears, don't be surprised if the Marlins and Mets end up playing a doubleheader on Monday at Shea. Because these could be the last games ever played at Shea, I doubt they would consider trying to move the series to a neutral site, as MLB did when they had the Astros go to Milwaukee after Hurricane Ike, to avoid the potential of a scheduling logjam, particularly if the Mets have to play a tiebreaker before the start of the playoffs.

September 24, 2008

Marlins Lock Up Winning Record, Defeat Nats




            WASHINGTON – The Marlins won’t have reason to drink champagne in October, not on the company dime. Their season ends Sunday. But they had cause for cheer on Wednesday, locking up a winning record – only the fifth in franchise history – with a 9-4 victory over the Washington Nationals.

            It’s a far better result than the last-place finish so many predicted of the Marlins, who will instead finish square in the middle of the five-team National League East. And if they can squeeze out two more wins over their final four games, they’ll end up with the third-best record ever posted by a Marlins team.

The two that did better, the 1997 and 2003 clubs, captured World Series titles.

Nothing like that is brewing on the immediate horizon. But rookie newcomers Cameron Maybin and Gaby Sanchez turned in the kinds of performances on Wednesday that could rekindle championship thoughts in the not-too-distant future.

            Maybin had another big night at the plate, going 3 for 3, and again flaunted his speed by stealing a base and chasing down a fly ball after a long run to left center. Since being called up from the minors on Sept. 16, Maybin has gone 14 for 28 with three stolen bases.

The only discouraging news for the Marlins: Maybin left the game in the sixth with a stiff left hip, which he apparently tweaked on his slide into second in the top half of the inning.

Then there was Sanchez, who could be taking over at first base in 2009 if Mike Jacobs doesn’t return.

Sanchez, who was awarded Most Valuable Player honors in the Double A Southern League, showed why on Wednesday when he produced a single and a pair of doubles. The first of those – his first big-league hit -- caromed off the wall in left and drove in a run.

Sanchez, a University of Miami product, received his first major league start as manager Fredi Gonzalez rested a few of the regulars after the team was eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday.

Gonzalez, however, said he intends to play his regulars this weekend (“for the integrity of the game,” he said) when the Marlins shoot up to Shea Stadium to take on the New York Mets, who are battling the Milwaukee Brewers for the wild card.

Last season, the Marlins knocked the Mets out of the playoff picture on the final weekend, and there’s already talk among players inside the clubhouse that they would love nothing more than to spoil the Mets’ season once again. There’s even an outside chance that pitcher Josh Johnson, who started and won Wednesday game for the Marlins, could be used in late-inning relief on Sunday if that game carries playoff significance.

If Wednesday was, in fact, Johnson’s final appearance, he ended his successful comeback campaign from Tommy John surgery on a winning note. Johnson improved to 7-1 with the six-inning effort.

He benefited from extensive run support.

Hanley Ramirez cracked his ninth, first-inning leadoff home run of the season – and 33rd overall – and the Marlins knocked Nationals starter Tim Redding out in the third with a five-run outburst.

Ramirez was one of four Marlins to have three hits, along with Maybin, Sanchez and Jeremy Hermida.

Josh Willingham also homered as the Marlins improved to 14-3 in their season series against the last-place Nationals.

5 to Go -- Marlins/Nationals (Wednesday)

            After being eliminated on Tuesday, the Marlins are sprinkling a few new faces into the lineup. Gaby Sanchez (1B) gets his first big-league start while Cameron Maybin (CF) bats in the second spot. Matt Treanor goes behind the plate for John Baker, who is nursing a sore left knee. But manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Marlins will send out their regulars when they face the Mets this weekend.

            Did anyone happen to notice that the Marlins, who have the lowest payroll in the majors, were eliminated on the same day as the New York Yankees, who have the highest?

           Larry Beinfest spoke to reporters in the dugout during batting practice with no earthshattering news. But Beinfest re-affirmed the desire to retool the roster to conform to the organization's emphasis on pitching, speed and defense. So look for the Marlins to shed some of their power (along with payroll) in exchange for leather and pure hitters.

          Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, CF Cameron Maybin, 3B Jorge Cantu, LF Josh Willingham, 2B Dan Uggla, RF Jeremy Hermida, 1B Gaby Sanchez, C Matt Treanor, P Josh Johnson.

          Nationals: 2B Emilio Bonifacio, SS Alberto Gonzalez, CF Lastings Milledge, RF Elijah Dukes, 1B Kory Casto, 3B Pete Orr, C Wil Nieves, LF Roger Bernadina, P Tim Redding.

September 23, 2008

Fish Feeding On Nats -- Lineups (Tuesday)

        If the Marlins continue their domination of the Nationals over the next few days -- either with a sweep or taking two out of three -- they will wind up with their most successful season series ever from a percentage standpoint (minimum of 10 games) against one opponent. They take a 13-2 mark into the series opener tonight at Nationals Park which, frankly, is nothing special compared to most of the other new parks. But that's another story.

        The best record the Marlins have had in a season against an opponent was their 15-4 mark against the Mets in 2004. Their worst (min. 10 games remember): 2-11 versus the Phillies in 1999.

        Tonight's lineups:

        Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, C John Baker, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Mike Jacobs, 2B Dan Uggla, LF Josh Willingham, CF Cody Ross, RF Jeremy Hermida, P Scott Olsen.

        Nationals: 2B Anderson Hernandez, SS Alberto Gonzalez, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, CF Lastings Milledge, RF Elijah Dukes, 1B Aaron Boone, LF Willie Harris, C Wil Nieves, P Shairon Martis.

September 22, 2008

Marlins can still hit the long ball

The Marlins went through a bit of a second half drought, but when Jeremy Hermida and Josh Willingham hit home runs Monday it gave the Marlins 201 for the season, which equals the club record set a year ago.

By the way, that’s 43 more home runs than the 1927 Yankees, who hit 158 in 154 games.

Marlins need some help from the Cubs

The Marlins need to send a text message to Lou Piniella and the Cubs.

It should read: “HELP!”

            The idea of the Marlins reaching the playoffs may seem out of the question, but with seven games left the formula is pretty simple. They can forget about winning the NL East. Those hopes all but disappeared when they fell to the Phillies Saturday and Sunday.

But the Marlins do have a shot – albeit a long one – at winning the wild card, and the reason is the Cubs.

The Marlins opened play Monday five games behind the Mets and 3 ½ games behind the Brewers in the wild card race, but the Marlins play the Mets the final three games of the season at Shea Stadium, where Florida knocked the Mets out of the playoffs on the final day of the season a year ago.

To catch New York, the Marlins have to make up at least two games over the next games and then sweep the Mets. The key is Piniella and his Cubs, who play the next four games against the Mets.

The Cubs have clinched the NL Central, and if they beat the Mets tonight they clinch home field in the first two rounds of the playoffs. If the Cubs could take 3 of 4 from the Mets or sweep the Mets in the four-game series, it would leave the door open for the Marlins, who play the Reds in a makeup game Monday and then play three games in Washington, where they are 6-0 this season.

The Cubs also have a hand in Milwaukee’s playoff hopes, because the Cubs play their final three games against the Brewers. .


To catch the Brewers, the Marlins have to make up 3 ½ games games, but if the Marlins go 6-1 the Brewers would have to go 3-3 to hold off Florida. If the Marlins go 7-0, Milwaukee would have to win four of its last six.

Sounds easy enough for Milwaukee, but the Brewers have won only five games in September and have lost eight of their last 10. Sure, the Brewers play their next three against the last-place Pirates, but C.C. Sabathia will make just one more start and that’s Thursday against the Pirates. If the Brewers go 1-2 against Pittsburgh and 1-2 or 2-1 against the Pirates against the Cubs, the Marlins could leapfrog them by going 6-1.

There is one other variable, and that’s the Houston Astros, who have a one-game lead over the Marlins. The Marlins need to go 6-1 or 7-0 to have a realistic chance at the playoffs, and if they do it would force the Astros to match them to win the wild card. Houston plays the Reds and Braves down the stretch, so it’s not out of the question.

If the Mets win 3 of 4 from the Cubs they would eliminate the Marlins even if the Marlins go 4-0 before reaching New York.

Still, the Marlins have a real chance to get to the playoffs – with some help from the Cubs.

Then there’s the final irony: If the Cubs knock off the Mets and Brewers to open the door for the Marlins, Florida would then open the playoffs at on the road at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.

Hanley's back in the lineup

Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez was back in the lineup, and back in the leadoff role Monday.

Ramirez, who missed four games with a left shoulder strain, took batting practice Sunday and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez felt his franchise player was healthy enough to rejoin the starting lineup.

Centerfielder Cameron Maybin, who hit in the leadoff spot in Ramirez’s absence, was dropped to seventh in the lineup.

Maybin, who had eight consecutive hits last week and set a franchise record by reaching base 10 consecutive times, entered Monday’s game hitting .476 (10 for 21).

Gonzalez said he wanted Ramirez back in the leadoff spot, because Ramirez is more comfortable hitting first.

“We tried that, hitting him in the 3 hole a couple of times this year,’’ Gonzalez said. ‘I still believe he can do it, but not these last seven games.’’Maybin had four hits Friday and Saturday, becoming only the second rookie in the last 20 years to save back-to-back four-hit games. Colorado’s Todd Helton accomplished the feat in 1998.

Ramirez, who hit two home runs in his last start Wednesday, belted a shot to left in his first at-bat, but Wilkin Castillo made a leaping catch at the wall.

Gonzalez said it really didn’t matter where he hit Maybin in the lineup.

“He can handle any spot we put him in,’’ Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez also gave Matt Treanor a rare start behind the plate, resting John Baker, who is hitting .377 in September. And Jorge Cantu had the day off as Gonzalez started Wes Helms at third base.

Here are Monday’s lineups for the makeup game, which is expected to draw fewer than 3,000. That’s right, the Marlins should feel right at home.

Marlins (81-74)

Ramirez SS

Hermida RF

Helms 3B

Jacobs 1B

Uggla 2B

Willingham LF

Maybin CF

Treanor C

Nolasco P

Reds (72-83)

Hairston RF

Castillo LF

Votto 1B

Encarnarcion 3B

Keppinger SS

Richar 2B

Patterson CF

Bako C

Harang P

September 21, 2008

Marlins-Phillies home finale; Hanley takes BP, but will not start

Hey guys,

Andre Fernandez here filling in for Clark and Mike today at the ball park as the Marlins wrap up the home slate against the Phils.

Suffice to say if we thought the Fish couldn't lose before last night's game, they can afford it even less from here on. A loss today would put them 6 1/2 behind Philly and at least 5, maybe 6 behind the Mets.

A win keeps their faint hopes alive - 4 1/2 behind Philly, 4 or 5 behind Mets with a 3-gamer next weekend at Shea.

Hanley Ramirez is still not in the starting lineup but he did take batting practice for the first time since he's been out and hit a couple out and others toward the warning track. Ramirez has missed the past three games and is expected sit out again today, although he said if he felt good enough, he'd like to possibly come in and pinch hit.

Here are the starting lineups for today.

FLORIDA (81-73)

1. Cameron Maybin cf

2. John Baker c

3. Jorge Cantu 3b

4. Mike Jacobs 1b

5. Dan Uggla 2b

6. Josh Willingham lf

7. Cody Ross rf

8. Alfredo Amezaga ss

9. Chris Volstad p


1. Jimmy Rollins ss

2. Chase Utley 2b

3. Jayson Werth rf

4. Ryan Howard 1b

5. Pat Burrell lf

6. Shane Victorino cf

7. Gregg Dobbs 3b

8. Carlos Ruiz c

9. Jaime Moyer p

September 20, 2008

Saturday's lineups--Hanley Ramirez out until at least Monday (updated Marlins lose.)


The Marlins lost 3-2 Saturday night, ending their nine-game winning streak and costing them ground in the playoff hunt. With eight games left the Marlins now are a longshot to make it. They are 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Phillies and 4 1/2 behind the Mets in the wildcard race.


The Marlins will play their third straight game without injured shortstop Hanley Ramirez Saturday night. Ramirez injured his shoulder while diving for a ground ball Wednesday and still is sore. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the best-case scenario would be Ramirez returning for Monday's game against Cincinnati.

A Marlins win Saturday night against the Phillies would be important to keep Florida's playoff hopes alive, but also would give the team a franchise-record 10th consecutive win.

Reminder: Sunday is the Marlins' regular season home finale.

Now for the lineups...


1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Chase Utley, 2B

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Pat Burrell, LF

6. Shane Victorino, CF

7. Greg Dobbs, 3B

8. Carlos Ruiz, C

9. Joe Blanton, RHP


1. Cameron Maybin, CF

2. John Baker, C

3. Jorge Cantu, 3B

4. Mike Jacobs, 1B

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Josh Willingham, LF

7. Cody Ross, RF

8. Alfredo Amezaga, SS

9. Anibal Sanchez, RHP