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45 posts from April 2009

April 19, 2009

Bulletin: Daniel Cabrera Grounds Out!

             WASHINGTON -- Huge cheer from the crowd here at Nationals Park after Nats pitcher Daniel Cabrera just grounded out, 3 unassisted. The reason: it marked the first time in 19 career at bats that Cabrera did NOT strike out.

             That's right. Cabrera had whiffed in every one of his previous 18 at bats, including his first plate appearance this afternoon.

             Meanwhile, Chris Volstad's pitch count is beginning to near flood level. He's thrown 85 pitches through four innings, which means the bullpen will likely have to cover at least three or four innings this afternoon.

             Remember, the bullpen is working on a scoreless streak of 21 1/3 innings. That's the longest such streak for the Marlins since the 2004 'pen went 23 2/3 innings without allowing a run.

             The bullpen has already had to cover 11 innings in the first two games of this series. Nunez, Penn and Lindstrom did not pitch yesterday, so they should be fresh. Kensing and Pinto pitched each of the first two games and probably aren't available.

             On the flip side, the bad news for the Marlins is that Nationals closer Joel Hanrahan probably isn't available, either, having given up game-tying home runs in the ninth inning of the first two games.

Maybin's Slump, Sunday's Lineup, and More.....

        WASHINGTON -- Marlins gun for their third sweep of the season. It's a 1:35 p.m. start and the sky is overcast, chance of rain later this afternoon according to forecasts.

        Emilio Bonifacio remains in the lineup -- and in the leadoff spot -- despite going hitless in his past 15 at bats. He put the ball in play three times yesterday, keeping Ryan Zimmerman busy by tapping three ground balls to the Nationals third baseman. But he struck out on yet another high fastball in his final at bat.

        Ross Gload and his .333 (6 for 18) career average against Washington starter Daniel Cabrera, replaces Jorge Cantu at first base and bats clean-up. Nice game yesterday by Gload, who was a big part of the 9th-inning rally with a pinch-hit single that drove in the Marlins' first run of the inning, and led off the decisive 11th with a walk.

       Alfredo Amezaga is in center and bats eighth, replacing Cameron Maybin, who is also slumping (see below):

       Here's the Marlins lineup:

       1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Ross Gload, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b: 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Alfredo Amezaga, cf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

       And the Nationals (1-9):

      1. Hernandez, 2b; 2. Nick Johnson, 1b; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, lf; 5. Elijah Dukes, cf; 6. Austin Kearns, , rf; 7. Jesus Flores, c; 8. Alberto Gonzalez, ss; 9. Daniel Cabrera, p.

       Had a little Sunday morning chat with Maybin just a moment ago and talked to him about his current hitting woes. He is hitting just .206 and is 2 for 13 on the road trip. He has only one extra-base hit -- a double -- so far this season, and he's scored just three runs.

       Here's what Maybin had to say:

       "I still feel pretty confident. I've just got to make adjustments a little bit. I've been going forward and I need to stay back a little bit. Just a little too aggressive. Still learning the 8 hole and I'm learning that you get a lot of junk. You don't get a lot of stuff to hit. Even talking to Dukes (Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes), he was one of my buddies. You got to be patient in the 8 hole and the last couple of days I've been drawing some walks and making the other guy throw a lot of pitches. But when you get that one pitch, you've got to try to make good on it. Hitting down there is a lot different than hitting at the top of the order.

      "Last year it was the same thing. I started off a little slow (at Double A Carolina) at the beginning of the year, started off real slow, and I made the adjusments. I don't think it's a particular pitch. It's just getting a good pitch to hit. I've  been getting a little too impatient up there. You've got to be patient and get your pitch, and you've got to be willing to take your walks.

     "When you're not swinging the way you want to, you want to play well on defense, is take some hits away. Defensively I feel great out there. You want to stay positive. You have one good day and you're right where you want to be. If I can keep mixing some walks in and have a 2-hit game. It is early. It if it's August, then I'd be a little antsy.



April 18, 2009

Cody Ross Returns Lucky Skoal Can to Original Owner, Hanley Ramirez

         WASHINGTON -- "Look what I have."

         Those were Hanley Ramirez's words just a moment ago inside the Marlins clubhouse as he reached into his back pants pocket and removed an empty can of Skoal -- the same can he gave to Cody Ross a few days ago to help the outfielder break out of his hitting slump.

         Ross, on Ramirez's urging, put the can in his back pocket right before his at bat in the seventh inning in Atlanta on Wednesday. Ramirez told Ross, who was 2 for 25 at the time, that it would change his luck at the plate.

        The empty tin did more than that. It absorbed the shock of a Peter Moylan fastball, which struck Ross in the rump and left a circular, can-sized brand on his, ahem, behind.

        But then Ross' fortunes improved dramatically, welt and all. He hit a 3-run homer in Wednesday's ninth inning, went 3 for 3 with another 3-run blast on Thursday, and hit a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth inning Friday night, sparking the Marlins' comeback victory.

       Now Ross is hoping the lucky can can do for a fellow teammate what it did for him: bring his bat to life. And that player would be......?

       You guessed it, Ramirez, who has gone 0 for 10 the past two games.

       "He said that I need it now," Ramirez said.

       Ross dressed the can up a little bit, wrapping it in white athletic tape and affixing the words "Slump Buster" to the top in black marker.

       If the can works its magic on Ramirez the way it did on Ross, they said they'll turn it into a traveling charm, going from one player to another as the inevitable slumps come and go over the course of the season.


Going for 10 -- Marlins Keep on Truckin'

           WASHINGTON -- Quick turnaround for the Marlins, who go back at it in a Saturday matinee at Nationals Park after winning last night in the 10th. They're 9-1 of course -- best start in franchise history, and so forth and so on. According to the Marlins, it's the best start for any team in the majors since the Yankees and Royals went 9-1 to open the 2003 season. The Yankees lost their 11th game while the Royals went to 11-1 before losing for the second time.

           Fredi Gonzalez has done some minor adjusting to the lineup for today's game, moving Jeremy Hermida into the second spot and having Ronny Paulino (with left-hander Scott Olsen going for the Nats)bat sixth.

           Marlins: 1.Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Ronny Paulino, c; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Josh Johnson, p.

           Nationals: 1. Anderson Hernandez, 2b; 2. Nick Johnson, 1b; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, lf; 5. Elijah Dukes, cf; 6. Josh Bard, c; 7. Austin Kearns, rf; 8. Alberto Gonzalez, ss; 9. Scott Olsen, p.

April 17, 2009

Maybin Leading Off; Bonifacio Sits

               Looks like Fredi Gonzalez has decided to give Emilio Bonifacio a break after watching him go 0 for his last 10, including seven whiffs. Cameron Maybin, who hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire at the plate (.214, 12 K's in 28 at bats), will lead off as the Marlins open a 3-game series against the Nats, who are no longer winless after defeating Philly last night. Wes Helms will start at third base.

              Marlins: 1. Cameron Maybin, cf; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Wes Helms, 3b; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p.

              Nationals: 1. Anderson Hernandez, 2b; 2. Nick Johnson, 1b; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, rf; 5. Elijah Dukes, cf; 6. Josh Willingham, lf; 7. Jesus Flores, c; 8. Alberto Gonzalez, ss; 9. John Lannan, p.

April 16, 2009

How Hanley Saved Cody's Butt

            ATLANTA -- Here's a bit of inside information, and do we mean inside. Cody Ross is wearing a round badge on his left rump, courtesy of a Peter Moylan pitch that struck him there last night.

            But here's the catch: the circular welt isn't the imprint left by the baseball, but an empty can of Skoal put in his back pocket just before the at bat. According to Ross, Hanley Ramirez handed him the empty can just before his seventh-inning at bat and told him to put it in his back pocket for good luck.

            The reason: Ramirez thought it would help cure Ross of his hitting slump.

            "You know how baseball is," Ross said. "You'll do anything to get going."

            Ross doesn't dip. But he's happy the can was in the right place at the right time.

            "It kind of pinched when the ball hit," Ross said. "When I got to first, I thought to myself, 'This doesn't hurt as much as it should.'"

            And Ross broke out of his slump in the ninth by driving in his first run of the season with a single.

            I guess you could say that Ramirez had Ross' back covered.


Broom Day? Amezaga, Paulino in Lineup

Turner field

            Good morning from Atlanta as we await a 12:10 start. Weather is sunny and clear as Marlins go for sweep of Braves.

            Manager Fredi Gonzalez has made a couple of minor adjustments to the lineup by inserting Alfredo Amezaga and Ronny Paulino. Amezaga will bat second and replace Cameron Maybin in center wihle Paulino gets the day-game-after-a-night-game start behind the plate.

            One side note: the Marlins have not homered during the current 3-game winning streak and have gone four straight games without going deep. (They've also struck out 39 times over the past three games). Their last home run was Dan Uggla's upper deck shot in the second inning on Friday. The Marlins hit half of their eight home runs on Opening Day.

            Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Alfredo Amezaga, cf; 3. Hanely Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

            Braves: 1. Kelly Johnson, 2b; 2. Omar Infante, 3b; 3. Yunel Escobar, ss; 4. Garrett Anderson, lf; 5. Casey Kotchman, 1b; 6. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 7. Jordan Schafer, cf; 8. David Ross, c; 9. Kenshin Kawakami, p.

Gload: Wins Are Permanent

               We were talking to Ross Gload after tonight's game about fast starts and how much they mean in the long run, if they mean anything at all. The Marlins have the best record in the majors at the moment at 7-1, and Gload contributed to Wednesday's victory over the Braves when his bases-loaded walk as a pinch-hitter in the seventh forced in the go-ahead run.

               Gload doesn't downplay the significance of a quick start even though he's been a member of two different teams that went in opposite directions after breaking fast out of the gate. He was on the 2005 Chicago White Sox club that opened up a 15-game lead in the standings, held on for the division title, and won the World Series. He was also on the '08 Kansas City Royals, which swept the Tigers to start the season, built a 6-2 record, and then stumbled to a 75-87 final mark.

               Still, as Gload pointed out, "You can't take wins away."

               Even though the '05 White Sox built a commanding lead, they were glad to have those early wins when their 15-game lead on Aug. 1 dwindled to 1 1/2 games by the third week of September. They managed to hold on to win the division, though.

               "If you get off to a good start, you don't ever coast," Gload said. "But it's better than getting off to a slow start and coming back the whole season."


April 15, 2009

Chilly Atlanta, Lineups and More

               ATLANTA -- The Marlins opened their 3-game set against the Braves last night with a victory, and that's saying something. Over the years, the Marlins have fared abysmally in Atlanta, going 43-82 in the Braves' unfriendly confines.

              They've never swept a 3-game series in Atlanta and, in their 21 series numbering three games, they've won the opener just five times.

              Atlanta isn't the only city where the Marlins have performed poorly. They've never swept a 3-game series in Arizona, Houston or Los Angeles, either. But they typically make only one trip a year to those places.

             Jorge Cantu is back in the lineup. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said closer Matt Lindstrom would not be available tonight even though he needed only nine pitches to dispense of the Braves in the ninth last night. Gonzalez said he still wants to wait another week, at least, before allowing Lindstrom to go on back-to-back nights.

             Andrew Miller, who is on the mound for the Marlins, will be permitted to throw anywhere from 85 to 100 pitches, assuming he's successful enough to make it that far.

             All of the Marlins will be wearing uniform No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.                 

            Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. John Baker, c; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Jeremy Hermida, lf; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Andrew Miller, p.

            Braves: 1. Kelly Johnson, 2b; 2. Omar Infante, 3b; 3. Yunel Escobar, ss; 4. Brian McCann, c; 5. Matt Diaz, lf; 6. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 7. Casey Kotchman, 1b; 8. Jordan Schafer, cf; 9. Derek Lowe, p.

April 14, 2009

Marlins Step Aside for Dolphins

                    The Marlins are conceding a home game in late September so that their good friends, the Miami Dolphins, can take on the Indianapolis Colts in a Monday Night Football matchup. Of course, the Dolphins will complain about the dirt infield while the Marlins will beef about the chewed up turf after all is said and done.

                    But that's what friends are for, right?

                    So whip out those calendars and make these changes to your Marlins schedule. Their game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 21 -- the day of the Dolphins' Monday nighter -- is being moved to July 16 and will remain at Dolphin Stadium.

                    Tickets issued for the Sept. 21 game will now be honored on July 16.