Another day, another Cy Young winner to try and take down.
Halladay, however, might be the toughest of any the Marlins have encountered. The 32-year old right hander is 10-1, leads baseball in wins, is second in complete games (3) and ranks third in the AL in strikeouts with 88.
The Marlins aren’t exactly familiar with Halladay either. Only seven players have faced him before. First baseman Jorge Cantu (2 for 11, .182 vs. Halladay) is the only player with more than three at-bats.
“The way I look at it is he’s got the same scouting report on us that we do on him,” said outfielder Cody Ross, who went 1 for 3 against Halladay in 2006. “His is thin and ours is thin.”
At least the Marlins have history on their side, having beat Halladay the only time they faced him in 2006. The Marlins actually hit him pretty well, scoring four earned runs on eight hits over six innings. Not counting utility man Alfredo Amezaga, who is out with a knee injury, the seven healthy Marlins who have a history against Halladay combined to go 10 for 27 off him (.370).
“What makes him tough is that he throws strikes,” catcher John Baker said.
“He has a lot of different pitches, keeps guys in and out and off balance. He’s probably the best pitcher in baseball. It will be a test for us, but no greater test than I think some of the arms we’ve seen. Lincecum, Randy Johnson. We’ve seen a lot of Cy Young award winners. It’s just another one to try and beat.”
The Marlins have fared well against Cy Young winners this season. After losing to San Francisco’s Barry Zito 2-1 last Friday, they’ve won three straight over Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson and Chris Carpenter.
TALES FROM A BEATUP CATCHER: Baker sat out his second straight game Thursday, the fallout of being struck with a bat over his left temple Tuesday night by St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols.
Baker is hoping to be in the lineup Friday in Toronto. But there’s a good chance he could he miss his third straight game. Thursday, he woke up with more swelling and yet another headache.
Baker said he won’t take any medication for the pain. “I don’t want to mask anything,” Baker said. “I prefer to know what I can and can’t do. With pain medication sometimes you think you can do something and then you go out and do something stupid. I wasn’t raised by my parents taking a lot of medicine for things. If it hurts and you can play with it, then that’s what you do.”
“Hopefully the swelling will start going down. But I took a pretty wicked impact.”
Baker tried catching a few balls in the bullpen with a hockey mask Wednesday but has ordered a different one he hopes to use in Toronto. He said once the stitches are removed (possibly by the time the Marlins in Boston), he’ll go back to using his regular catcher’s mask.
Baker, who was as a pitcher and first baseman in high school, didn’t start catching until he was handed the equipment upon arrival at the University of California. He’s taken his fare share of blows over the years since putting on the gear.
“I took one in the head earlier this year that knocked a nice little golf ball in the side of my head,” Baker said. “In 2005, we were in Omaha and I took an elbow to the artery in my neck. I had trouble swallowing for a while. Another time, we were playing against West Michigan in Single A and I got hit with an elbow in the jaw, got knocked out at home plate cold.
“There’s a reason we wear the catcher’s gear. I’ve deal with it before, but not like this with stitches. This one is the worst residual effect, keeping me out for a few games.”
> Chris Volstad, who had the worst outing of his career Wednesday (6 ER, 10 H), said the reason his sinker was not dipping against the Cardinals was because he wasn’t following through on all his pitches.
“My mechanics were definitely a little off,” Volstad said. “It was just one of those things where I’d do it right one time and then wrong the next. I’ll have it fixed for Boston.”
Volstad’s next scheduled start is Tuesday night against former Marlin Josh Beckett at Fenway Park. Volstad and Andrew Miller are the only Marlins pitchers who will face both the Red Sox and Yankees.
> Manager Fredi Gonzalez gave his No. 3 and No. 4 hitters the day off Thursday – first baseman Jorge Cantu because of dizziness and shortstop Hanley Ramirez because of a sore right groin.
Gonzalez said Ramirez tweaked his back Wednesday night beating out a double play ball. Gonzalez said he entertained the idea of pulling Ramirez, but his shortstop refused to be taken out – much like he has with just about every other injury this season.
“He’s played 11 games in a row [coming back from the groin]. He’s dealt with it pretty good,” Gonzalez said. “There were some days where you thought he wasn’t going to make it. My hats off to him.”