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37 posts from August 2009

August 22, 2009

Anibal's return could be boost Marlins need

Anibal Sanchez's return to the Marlins' rotation Friday night turned out be even better than what manager Fredi Gonzalez was hoping for. Gonzalez set a goal for Sanchez to reach 100 pitches and last between five to seven innings.

Anibal Sanchez could be the key to the Marlins playoff hopes down the stretch. Sanchez gave up one earned run on 82 pitches and took a no-hitter into the sixth, striking out seven and retiring 14 in a row at one point after giving up two first-inning walks. He would have pitched longer, according to Gonzalez, if not for the long layoff between innings (the Marlins scored four runs in the seventh, and a local singer took a little long singing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch).

‘‘The thing that was really nice to watch was he added and subtracted on his fastball," Gonzalez said. ‘‘A couple times he'd [throw] 94 [miles per hour], then he would back off and hit 91. He threw his breaking pitches for strikes. His command was good. He challenged hitters. For me, he has to have confidence now his arm is going to hold up."

The Marlins' rotation could certainly use a boost. Florida starters rank 19th in baseball in ERA (4.60) and have thrown just 692-2/3 innings after Friday -- 24th fewest in the league.

‘He's going to be the most rested guy in the rotation," Gonzalez said. "Everybody is over 100 plus innings and he's going to be the freshest guy. He's absolutely a plus for us."

How big a plus? Pitching coach Mark Wiley said Sanchez could be as big a boost as Josh Beckett was to the Marlins in 2003. Beckett missed two months (May, June) and turned out to be the Marlins best pitcher in the playoffs because he was fresh at the end of the season.

"Every team would like to have a fresh arm at the end of the season," Wiley said. "Sometimes, teams will bring up a guy from the minor leagues that hasn’t pitched that much and he’ll give a team a boost, a guy on the disabled list will come back and give you a boost. That happened her in 2003 with Beckett. He was out for over a month and came back and throughout the playoffs and World Series he had the strongest arm in baseball because he had a month and a half off. There is always that possibility when you get a fresh arm that it can really help you. After what I saw last night, I’m hoping he can stay there and he can move on and he can be a major part of what we’re trying to do."

Here's what Wiley said he liked in Sanchez's start: "I think he showed the kind of arm strength he needs not only for his fastball, but for his other pitches to be able to duplicate them and be aggressive with him. I think his overall strength, not only helps his fastball but it shows up in his changeup and his breaking ball. He’s able to maintain his arm slot and release point is more consistent when he has that strength. That’s what he showed last night."

August 20, 2009

Anibal Sanchez To Start Friday in Atlanta; Jorge Cantu Ailing with Stiff Neck

   As expected, Anibal Sanchez will come off the DL and start Friday in Atlanta just as a resounding 81 percent of you hoped he would in our poll. (The Marlins optioned right-hander Cristhian Martinez back to Double A Jacksonville).

    Sanchez hasn't pitched since June 2 but has looked good in his rehab outings in the minors. The Marlins desperately need him to pitch like the Sanchez of 2006 when he won 10 games as a rookie. His record since then: 5-10.

Just as the Marlins are getting Sanchez back to health, though, they're confronted with two significant injuries with their two corner infielders, Nick Johnson and Jorge Cantu. Johnson remains idle with a strained right hamstring that could prevent him from playing the entire Atlanta series and might land him on the DL if the thing doesn't improve by next week.

    Cantu is dealing with a sore neck, which he started noticing in about the seventh or eighth inning on Wednesday. The discomfort became so great during batting practice on Thursday that he had to abort the session. The Marlins replaced him in the lineup with Gaby Sanchez.

    Cantu said after Thursday's game that the neck was still bothering him, leaving his status for Friday and beyond uncertain.

A. Sanchez or R. VandenHurk? Let the Masses Be Heard!

              The Marlins still haven't announced a decision on Friday's starting pitcher, so we'll ask you. Who should it be? Anibal Sanchez? Or Rick VandenHurk? Keep in mind, the only way VandenHurk can be recalled from Triple A is if the Marlins place someone -- say, Nick Johnson -- on the disabled list. Otherwise, the Marlins must wait 10 days from the time he was optioned, which was after Sunday's start.

              A couple of other items worth noting as the Marlins prepare to head into Atlanta following the Houston series: VandenHurk has enjoyed mild success (2-0, 3.91 in five career starts) against the Braves over the years while Sanchez's only victory of the season for the Marlins was at Turner Field. You make the call. VandenHurk? Or Sanchez? I'll pass the results on to Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez!

August 19, 2009

11 Hits + 8 Walks + 2 Hit Batsmen = 3 Runs?

              Yep, the math is correct. It just doesn't make any sense.

              The Marlins had base runners galore on Wednesday, yet managed to score only three runs and ended up losing 6-3 to the Houston Astros. Runners left on base for the Marlins: 16. That's a season-high in LOB, surpassing the 15 stranded in a 14-inning game on May 4 against the Reds.

               Three times the Marlins had the bases loaded -- in the second, fifth and ninth innings -- and failed to score. They sent three batters to the plate in the seventh. Two of them singled and were quickly erased, once when Cody Ross was thrown out at second on a hit-and-run and once more when Emilio Bonifacio was picked off first.

               It wasn't as if the Marlins didn't hit the ball hard. Jorge Cantu had three balls caught on the warning track, each time with runners on base. Astros center fielder Michael Bourn ran down every fly ball hit inside the 713 area code.

               Chris Coghlan, his shoulder bruised from slamming into the wall in the seventh inning, turned in a determined at bat in the ninth when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He fouled off nine consecutive pitches -- eight of them with the count 0-2 -- before swinging and missing on a Jose Valverde splitter to end the game.

               "We left a lot of guys on base," said Coghlan, wearing an ice pack on his shoulder. "It's frustrating when you have the opportunities we had and don't come through."

              The Marlins extended their streak of consecutive games with 10 or more hits to 15 straight. But nobody was celebrating the feat after Wednesday's loss.

The Marlins and their Hitting Streak: What are the Odds?

              Before anyone gets too worked up over this 14-game streak by the Marlins of 10 or more hits, let's remember that the last team to do it -- the 1937 St. Louis Browns -- finished with the worst record in the majors that season: 46-108. You're correct to assume that those Browns couldn't pitch.

              Still, it's incredible that the Marlins are the first team in 72 years to put together a streak like the one they're riding now. It's so incredible that I asked a couple of college statistics professors who have an interest in baseball to calculate the odds of it even happening. In fairness to them, producing an answer is not as easy as plugging a few numbers into a formula.

              As James J. Cochran, a professor at Louisiana Tech University told me this morning when I provided him with the details: "It's a really messy and interesting problem." There are all sort of variables that have to be taken into consideration.

             With that in mind, here's the e-mail response I received from Jim Albert, a statistics professor at Bowling Green State University and co-author of the book Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics and the Role of Chance in the Game. (By the way, I mentioned in my request that Marlins pitcher Burke Badenhop is a Bowling Green alum).

             Hi Clark:

            Here are some calculations which will help answer your question.

            I collected the game hit numbers for a week of games in August to how
common 10 hits was.  For these 51 National League games, the average
number of hits was 9.35 and the proportion of games where a team got
10+ hits was 0.47.  So the chance of getting 10 hits is just about
like getting heads on a flip of a fair coin.

          A naive computation would say -- since the Marlins have a 47% chance
of getting 10+ in a single game, then the chance of getting 10+ in 14
consecutive games is

         (.47)^14 = 0.00003 (pretty small)

         But this is not really right, since there are many baseball teams and
there is a long season and it is much more likely that SOME  team in
the majors will have a streak this long this season.  The number
.00003 is understating the probability by a lot.

        I did a simulation where I assume that each team is "average".  I
simulated the hits for all games for all 30 teams and recorded the
longest team streak (where long is 10 or more hits) that one sees for
some team in the season.

      What I found is the chance of finding a team hitting streak this long
by some team this season is about 0.03 or 3%.

      So the Marlins' hitting streak is unusual, but not that unusual.

      I actually am more impressed with the fact that Burke Badenhop
graduated from BGSU.

      Jim Albert

      "Unusual, but not that unusual?" I decided to call Albert directly for clarification. After some discussion, he reached the conclusion that a 14-game hitting streak of 10 or more hits is so freaky that it almost falls under the category of a purely random event, one that defies statistical definition.

      "Since it hasn't happened for so many years, it's certainly an unusual event," Albert said. "But what is the chance that some team somewhere will have a streak that long? Since it hasn't happened for so many years, it's hard to put forth a reasonable statistical model."

       Cochran agreed.

       "It's awfully complicated because it's a compound problem," he said.

       But Cochran took it upon himself to dig into some of the numbers, and what he came up with was this:

       "The 1937 St. Louis Browns hit .285 as a team while the 2009 Marlins are hitting .267," Cochran said. "So what the Marlins have done is much more impressive that what the Browns accomplished."

       The same goes for the 1929 New York Giants, the last previous NL team to put together a streak like the Marlins'. Those Giants hit .296 as a team.

       Perhaps the best way to illustrate the Marlins' hitting streak would be to use Albert's estimate that teams collect 10 or more hits in a game close to 50 percent of the time. If that's true, then a flipped coin would have to come up heads 14 straight times to approximate what the Marlins have accomplished.




August 18, 2009

Will One Sanchez Lead to Another?

               Some familiar old faces -- and some missing ones -- at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Saw Aaron Boone taking batting practice with the Astros as the former Marlin and Red Sox killer continues to make his way back from open heart surgery. But sent packing was Pudge Rodriguez, who was traded to the Texas Rangers.

               Now to the Marlins side, where Gaby Sanchez was back with the club after being called up from Triple A New Orleans. With Nick Johnson nursing a tight right hamstring, Sanchez gives manager Fredi Gonzalez a backup option at the corners. Ross Gload is starting at first base in Johnson' splace tonight. Johnson said the injury, which he sustained Sunday, is "feeling better" but did not sound optimistic about playing in the Houston series.

               To make room for Sanchez, the Marlins optioned Rick VandenHurk to New Orleans.So does mean Anibal Sanchez, who turned in a rehab outing Monday night for Double A Jacksonville, now slide into the rotation? Most likely, though Gonzalez did not rule out bringing back VandenHurk. The only thing that is certain is that whoever it is will start on Friday in Atlanta. Gonzalez is moving Chris Volstad back a day -- to Saturday -- to give him extra rest between starts.

               Sanchez gave up only one hit during his outing, but it was a 2-run homer. He also went just 3 1/3 innings, totaling 45 pitches. But Gonzalez said the abbreviated stint was "by design" and would allow Sanchez to start Friday -- four days after his Double A appearance. Sanchez also struck out five while walking only one during Monday night's outing.

               Tonight's lineups as the Marlins try to become the first team since the 1937 St. Louis Browns to record at least 14 consecutive games with 10 or more hits. The last NL team to do it was the 1929 New York Giants.

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

               Astros: 1. Michael Bourn, cf; 2. Miguel Tejada, ss; 3. Lance Berkman, 1b; 4. Carlos Lee, lf; 5. Geoff Blum, 3b; 6. Hunter Pence, rf; 7. Kazuo Matsui, 2b; 8. Chris Coste, c; 9. Bud Norris, p. 

August 16, 2009

Big City Fish Part Deux LIVE!: Colorado Rockies 7 @ Florida Marlins 3 -- FINAL Game 2

Swwep The Marlins, fresh off a 10-3 win over the Rockies on Sunday, now go for the series sweep in the second game of the doubleheader.

Here are the lineups:

Colorado: LF Seth Smith; CF Carlos Gonzalez; 1B Todd Helton; SS Troy Tulowitzki; RF Brad Hawpe; 3B Garrett Atkins; 2B Clint Barmes; C Yorvit Torrealba; LHP Jorge De La Rosa

Florida: LF Chris Coghlan; CF Emilio Bonifacio; SS Hanley Ramirez; 1B Jorge Cantu; 2B Dan Uggla; RF Cody Ross; 3B Wes Helms; C Ronny Paulino; RHP Rick VandenHurk.

T1: VandenHurk opens the game by walking Smith; Gonzalez singles; Helton K; runners advance on a called wild pitch that looked like a passed ball to me...Marlins end up giving up a run but get out of inning...Gonzalez caught in rundown at third, then Tulowitzki caught trying to snag second...

B1:Bonifacio gets on, gets thrown out taking second on pitch out...Hanley gets another hit, but is stranded...

T2:Rockies pick up two off Clint Barmes' homer to left...into the second row of the club seats...

B2: Cody Ross gets to second but goes no further...

-- Notes from Game 1: The Marlins banged out 17 hits, continuing the team record for consecutive games with 10-plus hits. Florida is now at 12 straight games with 10 or more hits. The previous record was six (Aug 13-19, 2000). The last team to go 12 straight was the 2006 Yankees.

Florida also has scored six-plus runs in eight games -- also continuing a franchise record.

-- Hanley Ramirez has a 12 game hitting streak going after singling in the first; he's trying to tie Coghlan's franchise record (set just last week) for consecutive multi-hit games. Hanley's at seven.

-- Dan Uggla is riding a six game hitting streak.

-- Chris Volstad has three career RBI. He had two of them today.

-- Ross Gload and Wes Helm lead the league with 14 pinch-hit base hits.

T3:Carlos Gonzalez sends an 0-1 pitch into the stands in right...whomever got to it threw it back onto the field....

Most interesting thing to happen so far is Billy the Marlin's birthday...the whole gang is here, from Stanley C. to Sebastian the Ibis to Burnie. Looks like Albert the Alligator also made the drive south from Gainesville to celebrate with Billy (who is now 16. Man how the time flies.)

Will return when something interesting happens out there...Stay tuned...

T4: How about this? VandenHurk puts the Rocks down in order...

Will return when something of interest happens...stay tuned...

B4: Marlins have the bases loaded with one out...Hanley walked, Cantu singled and Ross walked...Wes Helms batting...De La Rosa now at 70 pitches, two more than VandenHurk...Helms strikes out on some high heat...that brings up Ronny...Inning ends when Hanley comes home on a wild pitch but was called out after being tagged by the pitcher...close play...

T5: Rocks go down 1-2-3

B5: Ronny led off with a single, then went all the way to third when VandenHurk laid down a bunt that was thrown wild to second. After Coghlan flied out to shallow left (Paulino held), Bonifacio bounced one up the middle into center to put the Fish on the board...Hanley strikes out on a checked swing...Cantu strikes out and that's that...two men left on...

T6:Colorado opens things up as Brad Hawpe sends a two-run shot to left...VandenHurk is done for the day...

B6:Marlins have two on, but put nothing across...pinch hitter Hermida pops up to short to end it...

B7: With runners on the corners and one out, Cantu lines one into left to score Coghlan and cut the FLA deficit to four...Uggla strikes out looking for the second out, with Cody Ross driving a pitch to center to drive in Hanley to make it 6-3...Helms singles to right, but Cantu is held...bases loaded, two outs for Paulino...and he pops up to second to end it...

-- Cody Ross has six hits today, setting a franchise record for most hits in a doubleheader. Previous record was five, last done by Josh Willingham in 2006 @ Philadelphia...

-- Cantu's hit was the 10th of the game for the Marlins, extending their franchise record to 13 straight games with 10-plus hits...

B8:Marlins get two on with one out, but Hanley strikes out (unless this thing goes to extra innings, his multi-hit streak is over) and Cantu flies out to deep left...three more outs...

T9:Rockies add another run, Yorvit Torrealba driving in one to make it 7-3...Marlins down to it...

B9:Uggla, then Ross and Helms...

Well that's that...enjoy the rest of your summer y'all...


Doin' The Fish LIVE! Colorado 3 @ Marlins 10 -- FINAL-Game 1 ... Nick Johnson Leaves Game with Hamstring Injury ... Chris Volstad goes 5+ ... Mets beat San Francisco, Marlins 1 Back in Wild Card

Jrs George Richards here offering you warm greetings from Miami Gardens Stadium where the Marlins are entertaining the Colorado Rockies in a sun-filled double header.

Television coverage on FSN doesn't start until 3:30 p.m., so here's what's happening:

Top of 1: Chris Volstad struggles a bit, giving up a solo shot to Carlos Gonzalez on a 3-2 pitch with one out. Volstad then walked the next two, but got Brad Hawpe to ground out to Jorge Cantu for a 5-3 double play. COL 1, FLA 0

Bottom of 1: Chris Coglan opens with a basehit, thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double. Wendys-sign You can do that at Wendy's for a nominal fee. Turned out it cost the Marlins as Hanley Ramirez drilled a 2-2 pitch into the club section in left. Cantu ends the inning after getting tagged out on a long groundout to third. We move the second...

-- NICK JOHNSON, who batted second today, left the game after the first inning with a right hamstring injury.

Jeremy Hermida replaces Johnson in the lineup and bats second; Hermida is in right field, Coghlan moves to left and Gload replaces Johnson at first base.

T-2: A nice easy inning for Volstad...1-2-3

B-2: Big inning for the Fish; Marlins have Dan Uggla and Cody Ross at second and third with one out and Gload takes a free pass to load 'em up. With one out, Volstad leaks a single into right to score Uggs and Ross making it 3-1; then Coghlan crushes one off the NL scoreboard in left-center to make it a five-run inning and give the home team a 6-1 lead. Aaron Cook strikes out Hanley to end it, but the Rocks bullpen is working. Former Cardinal Gibbons star Josh Fogg is warming up...

T-3: Volstad runs into a little trouble but Rocks don't do anything. Colorado bullpen quiet once more...

B-3: Cook gets the first out of the inning but then walks Baker and Uggla. That brings Fogg up in the bullpen again. Ross singles to left, but Baker has to hold at third. Gload then singles in a run with the bases loaded, it's 7-1. And say good day to Aaron Cook. Still responsible for the three guys sitting on that duck-filled pond. Josh Fogg is in to face Volstad with the bases juiced (can I say juiced on a baseball blog?) Anywho, Volstad strikes out. So too does Coghlan. So Fogg keeps the damage to a minimum.

The line on Cook: 2 1/3, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 1 WP, 70 p (39 k)

T-4: Volstad gives up a double to start things off but gets out of the inning with nothing across..

B-4: With one out, Hanley drops a single into shallow right. With two down, Baker doubles to right, Hanley held at third. Uggla flies out, and that's that.

-- On a side note, the Indians are beating Minnesota. I share because that's rare. Not so much them winning, but actually having a chance to win a series on the road...

-- Also, the Mets lead the Giants 2-1 in the 8th; Florida comes into today trailing the Giants by a game in the wild card race. The Cubs, who are behind FLA, are in a rain delay. Atlanta plays the Phils tonight.

T-5: Easy inning for Volstad...1-2-3

-- The Marlins mascots are doing the Chicken Dance behind the third base line with some Lion looking thing. It could be Stanley C. Panther's strange little brother though, you know, the one he rarely talks about...

B-5:Ross to lead it off, followed by Gload and Volstad...Ross pops up, with Gload grounding out...Volstad also grounds out for a 1-2-3 inning for the Foggster...

Stretching in the FLA bullpen: Brian Sanches and Cristhian Martinez...Volstad has thrown 94 pitches but will be out there to start the sixth..

-- 182 games left here at Miami Gardens Stadium before Orange Bowl Park opens...

T-6: Volstad lets first two get on and is done for the day...Dan Meyer is into the game...Meyer gets the Marlins out of it...

-- Scoreboard Watch: Giants tie up the Metropolitans in the eighth...it's 2-2 at Shea...

B-6: Marlins get some action on the basepaths, but fail to score...

T-7:With none out and a runner on, Ryan Spillborghs doubles off the NL scoreboard in left-center to cut the Rockies deficit to five...Kiko Calero is warming up in the pen as now there are runners on the corners with no outs...Renyel Pinto also getting loose...Carlos Gonzalez makes it 7-3 with a sacrifice RBI fly...but that's all the Rocks get...Time to stretch!

B-7:John Baker gets things going in the seventh, leading off with a double down into right...Uggla walks, Cody Ross (2-3) up next...Matt Daley pitching for the Rocks FYI....Ross reaches with a high shot to center as Dexter Fowler loses it in the sun...bases loaded, no outs for Gload who drives one to right for an RBI...Uggla moves to third, Ross thrown out at second...Wes Helms pinch-hitting with one on and two down...Helms up the middle, drives in Uggla...

-- The Marlins can tie San Francisco for second place in the Wild Card race with a win here today. If Florida wins the second game, the Marlins pass the Giants and move into a tie for first with the Rockies. The Mets beat the Giants 3-2 today...

T-8: Renyel Pinto now into the game for the Fish and he gets the first two batters out. He does not get the third as Ian Stewart doubles to right....Pinto ends it by striking out Clint Barmes....

Greenman -- Hey, hey, hey: Greenman is here! And he's sitting in left field. Go say hello for me if you would...

B-8: Hanley leads things off with a double off the scoreboard. Another bowl of Wheaties this morning and that might have found its way out of here. Jorge Cantu gets on, dropping a soft one into right...still no outs for John Baker...

With the bases loaded, Cody Ross singles, giving him an RBI and four (FOUR!) hits today...Marlins are up a touchdown and the Broncos only have one possession left....

T-9:Calero is now in the game, running into a little resistance from the Rockies...runner on, two out...

Well that's that. Drive careful everyone. What? We're not going anywhere? OK, come on back for Game 2. With the Marlins a game back in the Wild Card, we'll go live for that too. Not that it's real hard to do....

See you in a little bit. Game 2 should start here around 5:15...

Marlins LIVE! So Nice, They'll Play Twice: Colorado Rockies @ Florida Marlins (Doubleheader)

Ernie_Banks Good afternoon baseball fans, George Richards here at Miami Gardens Stadium ready for a fun-filled day of Miami Marlins baseball.

As Ernie Banks says, ''Let's play two!''

The Fish and Mountains got rained out last night, so we have an early afternoon double-dip. First pitch today is at 1:35, with the second game scheduled for 25 minutes after Game 1 comes to a close.

Florida goes with Chris Volstad (8-9) in Game 1, with Rick Vandenhurk (2-1) going in the nightcap. Colorado counters with Aaron Cook (10-4) and Jorge De La Rosa (10-8).

As far as television goes, nothing until FSN picks up Game 1 in Ghostbusters progress at 3:30 and then continues coverage through Game 2. You can always pick up the radio feed on XM Radio or on AM-790. Or come on out to the ballstadium.

Plenty of room to sprawl out.

With no television coverage, check back here throughout the afternoon for quick hit updates. It's fun and it's free. You cannot beat that I assure you.

-- Here are the lineups for Game 1:

Colorado (64-52, 2 game lead on FLA in wild card): CF Dexter Fowler, LF Carlos Gonzalez, 1B Todd Helton, SS Troy Tulowitzki, RF Brad Hawpe, 3B Ian Stewart, 2B Clint Barmes, C Chris Ianetta, RHP Aaron Cook.

Florida (62-54, 4 games back in NL East): LF Chris Coghlan, 1B Nick Johnson, SS Hanley Ramirez, 3B Jorge Cantu, C John Baker, 2B Dan Uggla, CF Cody Ross, RF Ross Gload, RHP Chris Volstad.

August 15, 2009

Marlins Agree To Terms with 1st Round Draft Pick, Chad James

               The Marlins have agreed to terms with their frst-round draft pick Chad James, a high school pitcher out of Oklahoma.

               James, a left-hander who was chosen with the 18th overall pick, will receive a $1.7 million bonus, as well as a six-figure college scholarship that he can use in the future.

               The Marlins plan to officially sign James on Monday.

               At the time he was drafted in June, James -- out of Yukon High School near Oklahoma City -- predicted he would be in the majors within three years.

               See what they're saying about James back in Oklahoma, and what he has to say about joining the Marlins, by reading here.