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Do The Marlins Have to Sweep the Mets?

   With only 25 games remaining in the season, the Marlins just about have to go on some ridiculous winning tear to pull out a miracle and reach the playoffs. They begin the day six behind the Phils in the NL East and 5 1/2 in back of Colorado -- with San Francisco sandwiched in between -- in the wild card.So you gotta figure 2 out of 3 isn't good enough anymore, especially when the opposition is the Mets.

    Spoke a moment ago with reliever Brendan Donnelly, who was activated from the disabled list today, and he seems to think the path of least resistence is the wild card. "That's a pretty big mountain to climb right now," Donnelly said of the gaps the Marlins have to make up. "I think right now we need to concentrate on the smaller hill, which is the wild card. And I think it's very, very reachable. You know the NL West, the rest of the way is going to beat up on each other. And if we handle our business here, we can climb that hill pretty quick. We have to because there's not a lot of time left. The door's open for us. If we do our thing....the door is open for us. We just got to go through it."

I'm not sure I agree with Donnelly on thinking the wild card is the easier path, especialy since the Marlins have six games remaining with the Phillies and don't play any of the wild card contenders again this season.

Lineups (Carlos Beltran returns to the Mets lineup):

Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan; 2. Nick Johnson, 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. John Baker, c; 6. Dan Uggla, 2b; 7. Cody Ross, rf; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Rick VandenHurk, p.

Mets 1. Angel Pagan, lf; 2. Luis Castillo, 2b; 3. David Wright, 3b; 4. Carlos Beltran, cf; 5. Daniel Murphy, 1b; 6. Jeff Francoeur, rf; 7. Josh Thole, c; 8. Anderson Hernandez, ss; 9. Tim Redding, p.


The Marlins called up RHP Chris Volstad and INF Gaby Sanchez from Triple A New Orleans on Tuesday, and that should take care of the September promotions. Manager Fredi Gonzalez now has 33 players at his disposal, and a surplus of long relievers ("One for each starter," Marlins radio man Glenn Gefner joked in the dugout). Volstad and Andrew Miller, original members of the starting rotation, are now stationed in the pen, along with Burke Badenhop and Cristhian Martinez.

 For now, Gonzalez said he is sticking with his current 5-man rotation of VandenHurk, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Sean West, but that could always change. Gonzalez said there are "a lot of possibilities" at the moment in terms of his rotation.


    Leo Nunez received his initiation into the closer's fraternity on Sunday when he suffered the first walk-off loss of his relief career. And it came about fast, too. The Nationals turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 victory in a matter of five Nunez pitches, two of which left the yard for home runs.

"I felt bad because I want to help our team get to the playoffs and possibly play in the World Series," Nunez said Tuesday through a translator. "But I've already forgotten about it. It's important to just move on and prepare for the next day."

    Nunez said he might need to stay away from throwing first-pitch fastballs to set up his change-up. Home runs have resulted from each of the first pitches Nunez has thrown in his two most recent outings.

"The last few games I feel llike they'vge been timing up that first fastball I throw," Nunez said. "But the next game I have in my mind to vary the pitches a little more."


It doesn't appear that outfielder Jeremy Hermida will be seeing action anytime soon. Hermida has been out with a strained oblique muscle and Gonzalez said it hurts for Hermida to laugh or sneeze.

 -- Marlins big-wigs Jeffrey Loria, David Samson and Larry Beinfest are on the New York trip.