Messing around with numbers this morning and came up with this nugget: since Nick Johnson joined the club a week ago, he and leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan have reached base a staggering 56 percent of the time they've been to the plate. They've succeeded to get on base in 38 of their 68 combined chances.
Coghlan, of course, is on a hitting tear. The rookie has had at least two hits in each of his past seven games and will set a Marlins club record this afternoon if he has another multiple-hit game against the Phillies. Johnson is doing exactly what the Marlins were hoping he would, occupying bases as if he is stapled to them. He has reached in 20 of his 34 opportunities.
So what's the knock? This is: despite their high on-base percentages, Coghlan and Johnson have scored just 10 runs, and two of those are the result of their own home runs. The Marlins' 3 and 4 hitters (and to some extent, their 5th) are not driving in runs. Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu have driven in just one run each since Johnson landed in the trade with Washington.
"Believe me, we're trying to get the runners home,":said Cantu, who has gone 3 for 28 over the past week. "Individually, I'm lacking and I need to get better. I need to get better and I guess the rest of the guys are thinking the same way."
Cantu described his slump as a hard-to-solve "riddle."
"You try to look for that one pitch, and sometimes you don't get it," Cantu said. "And then you have to look for some other pitches. Sometimes I'm jumpy. Sometimes I'm anxious. It's just been bumps in the road, and we have to get over them. We have two months left to get ourselves together and drive in more runs."
With Marlins killer Jamie Moyer on the mound for the Phils, Emilio Bonifacio is starting at second, Wes Helms will be at third, Cantu goes back to first, and Jeremy Hermida returns to the lineup and goes to right.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he's not sure on Leo Nunez's availability. Nunez closed out Friday's and Saturday's victories, but needed only five pitches to get the job done on Friday.
Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Emilio Bonifacio, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Wes Helms, 3b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Ronny Paulino, c; 8. Jeremy Hermida, rf; 9. Josh Johnson, p.
Phillies: 1. Jimmy Rollins, ss; 2. Shane Victorino, cf; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 3. Ryan Howard, 1b; 4. Raul Ibanez, lf; 6. Greg Dobbs, rf; 7. Pedro Feliz, 3b; 8. Paul Bako, c.; 9. Jamie Moyer, p.