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52 posts from May 2010

May 31, 2010

Marlins Home Park is Gold Mine for Inside-the-Park Home Runs

           When slow guys like Hee Seop-Choi and Mike Redmond are able to hit inside-the-park home runs at Sun Life Stadium (or whatever the place happened to be called then), it stands to reason that just about anyone can do it. The outfield is spacious, especially to right-center, and there's the "Bermuda Triangle" to contend with in center.

           Cameron Maybin on Monday became the 16th player to hit an inside-the-park home run at Sun Life, making it the second easiest park in the majors since 1993 -- the year the Marlins joined the league -- to circle the bases without the ball going over the wall. Kansas City's Kaufmann Stadium tops the list with 20 inside-the-park home runs since '93, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

           Here's the updated list of the 15 times that Marlins have hit inside-the-park home runs. Note that all but three were hit at home:       

1. Bret Barberie (6/13/94) --at St. Louis

2. Alex Arias (6/2/95) -- Home

3. Kurt Abbott (8/9/95) -- Home

4. Kurt Abbott (8/10/95) -- Home

5. Edgar Renteria (4/5/97) -- Home

6. Kurt Abbott (5/29/97) -- Home

7. Kevin Millar (5/24/99) -- at Chicago Cubs

8. Cliff Floyd (6/19/01) -- Home

9. Mike Redmond (8/12/01) -- Home

10. Derrek Lee (4/12/03) -- Home

11. Hee Seop-Choi (5/19/04) -- Home

12. Juan Pierre (6/13/04) -- at Detroit

13. Hanley Ramirez (9/2/06) -- Home

14. Emilio Bonifacio (4/6/09) -- Home

15. Cameron Maybin (5/31/10) -- Home

Cody Ross: Dump the Mosh Pits, Go Back to Handshakes

  The Marlins haven't celebrated any walk-off home runs this season. But, in the aftermath of the Kendry Morales incident with the Angels on Saturday, they're questioning the way of going about business when it does happen.

 "I'll tell you what," said Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla. "If I hit a walk-off home run, I'm going to be a little bit more careful."

Morales broke his left ankle when he jumped into a swarm of teammates at home plate on Saturday after hitting a walk-off grand slam. There's a chance he could be lost for the season. Angels manager Mike Scoscia called a team meeting on Sunday and laid out new parameters on walk-off celebrations. Those were put to the test almost immediately when Howie Kendrick hit a walk-off homer to win Sunday's game. Kendrick was given a wide berth to the plate before being congratulated by his teammates in a more subdued manner.

"I'm all for going back to the handshakes, like in the old days," said Marlins outfielder Cody Ross. "It's classy."


Taylor Tankersley has retired all five of the left-handed batters he's faced since his promotion last week from Triple A. He was brought in to face Philadelphia's Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on Friday with the bases loaded of a tie game and got both to ground out (though Philly pulled off a double steal while he was on the mound and one of the runners scored the go-ahead run on Utley's ground ball). He was brought in with a man on in the seventh inning of Sunday's game, with the Marlins clinging to a 1-0 lead, and struck out pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs. Tankersley also retired Atlanta rookie Jason Heyward in his first outing.

  Tankersley missed all of last season after undergoing surgery on his left elbow to repair a stress fracture.

  "I've got to give a thank you to the staff in New Orleans because they brought me along perfectly," Tankersley said of Triple A manager Edwin Rodriguez and pitching coach Scott Mitchell. "The first month of the season, I pitched every other day and I'd throw one full inning or two full innings. So I was able to face righties, lefties -- everybody -- and just pitch, and get the feel for everything  back. And then, towards the end of April, I would go like an inning and maybe the next day come in and face a lefty, and then have a day or two off. And then the last copule of weeks it's been all situational. So they brought me along perfectly."


    Brett Carroll might wish to compare notes -- or bruises -- during the Milwaukee series with the Brewers' Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder. The reason: Fielder has been hit with pitches eight times to lead the NL while Weeks and Carroll are right behind with seven each. Carroll was struck by a Jamie Moyer pitch on Sunday, which didn't sit well with the Phillies pitcher. He felt that Carroll leaned into the pitch.

"I wanna get on base," Carroll said. "But I don't think it's anything where I'm on top of the plate.

    When Carroll reached first after the plunking, he said Howard asked him "Are you going to need any ice for that one?"

   -- Catcher John Baker (DL-right forearm) is scheduled to DH for Single A Jupiter on Tuesday. Baker said he plans to resume throwing within a few days.   



  Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, rf; 7. Ronny Paulino, c; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Nate Robertson, p.

  Brewers: 1. Rickie Weeks, 2b; 2. Carlos Gomez, cf; 3. Prince Fielder, 1b; 4. Ryan Braun, lf; 5. Casey McGehee, 3b; 6. Corey Hart, rf; 7. Alcides Escobar, ss; 8. George Kottaras, 9. Chris Narveson, p.

   Umps: HP -- Bill Miller; 1b -- Chad Fairchild; 2b -- Mike Reilly; 3b -- Eric Cooper

May 30, 2010

Post-Perfection: The Day After

         Some notes to get the day started here at Sun Life Stadium, where the top topic remained Saturday night's perfect game by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay.

         Halladay spoke to the media this morning at his locker. Here are a few of the things he had to say:

         -- Vice President Joe Biden phoned to congratulate him. "Obviously, it was pretty cool," Halladay said.  

         -- Halladay said he has the ball from the final out, the pitching rubber, his jersey and hat from Saturday's game. "I'm not huge on a lot of the memorabilia. I think the memories sometimes last longer than that stuff."

         -- The Hall of Fame has not yet contacted him about obtaining personal items from Saturday's perfecto.

         -- Asked why he thought Biden and not Obama called, Halladay joked: "I heard he's (Obama) a White Sox fan. That's the rumor."

          -- On his thinking during the game: "I think you're aware of it. I think everybody has times where you get later into the game with it. It's just something you don't expect. I don't think there's ever a point where you think it's actually going to happen."

          -- Halladay said he thought the closest he came to losing the perfect game came in the ninth when pinch-hitter Mike Lamb led off with a deep drive to center, which was caught on the warning track by Shane Victorino. "I thought  Lamb to lead off the ninth, he hit that ball pretty good, was probably close to going out in 95 percent of the parks," he said. "It's just one of those things, right place at right time, I guess."

          -- Asked how he would react to suggestions that home plate umpire Mike DiMuro's large strike zone aided in the masterpiece, Halladay replied: "Thanks."

          THREE PERFECT GAMES FOR VAN HORNE.....Halladay's perfect game wasn't the first one that Marlins radio broadcaster Dave Van Horne has worked. Van Horne was also behind the mike for Dennis Martinez's gem in 1991 and David Cone's in 1999. It's hard to imagine that anyone else has personally witnessed three perfect games. "I really didn't think about that until I got home last night, and my wife told me that when she said 'That's daddy's third,' my (9-year-old) daughter Madison said, 'Will he be in the Guinness Book of World Records,' because she loves that book."

          PERFECT GAME TWO-TIMERS: Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire was with the Cincinnati Reds when teammate Tom Browning pitched a perfect game against the Dodgers in 1988....Marlins Spanish-language broadcaster Cookie Rojas started at shortstop for the Phillies when Jim Bunning pitched his perfect game in 1964.....Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez was third base coach for the Braves when Arizona's Randy Johnson pitched a perfect game against Atlanta in 2004.


          Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Wes Helms, 3b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Ronny Paulino, c; 7. Cody Ross, cf; 8. Brett Carroll, rf; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

          Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Wilson Valdez, ss; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Jayson Werth, rf; 6. Ben Francisco, lf; 7. Juan Castro, 3b; 8. Brian Schneider, c; 9. Jamie Moyer, p.           

Marlins Repeat History in Perfect Game Loss

   Josh Johnson isn't the only pitcher to come out on the short end of 1-0 score in a perfect game thrown by the opposing pitcher. And center fielder Cameron Maybin isn't the first fielder whose error led to the only run in a perfect game defeat.

   In fact, last night's masterpiece by the Phillies' Roy Halladay marked the SIXTH time that a perfect game has ended in a 1-0 decision with the lone run being unearned, amazing considering that there have been just 20 perfect games in major league history.

     Here's a brief rundown of the six 1-0, error-deciding perfect games:

  -- Lee Richmond of the Worcestor Ruby Legs pitches baseball's first perfect game, defeating the Cleveland Blues, 1-0, in 1880. A throwing error by Blues rookie second baseman Fred Dunlap produces the only run. Jim McCormick gets the loss.

  -- Addie Joss of the Cleveland Naps records a perfect game in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Oct. 2, 1908. First baseman Frank Isbell's throwing error leads to the only run. Ed Walsh gets the loss.

   -- The Dodgers' Sandy Koufax pitches a perfect game in a 1-0 decision over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965. Bob Hendley of the Cubs takes the loss. Catcher Chris Krug's throwing error produces the run.

    -- The Angels' Mike Witt delivers a perfect game on Sept. 9, 1984, in a 1-0 win over the Texas Rangers. Charlie Hough is the loser. Catcher Donnie Scott's passed ball leads to the only run.

-- Cincinnati's Tom Browning comes up with a perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988, in a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers. The run scores on third baseman Jeff Hamilton's throwing error. The Dodgers' Tim Belcher takes the loss.

-- Halladay records the 20th perfect game in MLB history on Saturday, a 1-0 decision over the Marlins. Johnson gets the loss despite holding the Phillies to an unearned run that results from center fielder Maybin's three-base fielding error in the third inning.

May 29, 2010

Marlins Stuffing the Ballot Box, Putting Fannies in Seats

         The Marlins have a plan to kill two birds with one stone -- putting Marlins in the All-Star Game and butts in the seats at Sun Life Stadium.

          Starting tonight, every fan in attendance who punches in 200 All-Star ballots by the sixth inning will receive two free tickets to an upcoming Marlins game. The catch: fans MUST vote for all eight Marlins on the ballot (they can vote for whoever they wish on the American League side) in order to qualify for the ticket giveaway.

           "It is a little bit of bribery," said backup infielder Wes Helms. "But I guess in the past we haven't had a lot of All-Star pushes here. It's not like your big-market cities, like New York and Philly, where you've got a lot of people putting in All-Star votes. I think it's good that the team is actually doing something. We've got some guys who deserve to be there."

           The Marlins rank 28th in average home attendance, ahead of only the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. Only shortstop Hanley Ramirez was among the top five at his position when the early voting totals were released this week. Ramirez was second among shortstops.

           According to Sean Flynn, the Marlins' vice president of marketing, fans who fill in at least 200 ballots at games on Saturday and Sunday will receive vouchers to a game during the upcoming Milwaukee series. Flynn said the promotion will continue indefinitely. Fan voting for the All-Star game ends on June 17.

Hello to Last Place

    BOTTOMSVILLE -- In case you missed it, the Marlins woke up this morning in last place when the Nats won their game with the San Diego Padres late Friday out on the West Coast. This marks the sixth time in franchise history the Marlins (24-25) have been in last at the 49-game mark, most recently in 2006 when they were 16-33. It's worth noting that the 2003 team was also in last place -- 12 1/2 games out of first place -- at this juncture with a record of 20-29. That team recovered and won the World Series.

   HOW'S THAT TRADE LOOKING NOW UPDATE -- Mike Stanton hit his 18th home run for Double A Jacksonville on Friday, but Andrew Miller turned in another clunker, walking seven batters in 5 2/3 innings. Miller has walked 30 in 28 innings in his six starts this season at Jacksonville and Single A Jupiter. Meanwhile, Miguel Cabrera slammed three home runs on Friday for the Detroit Tigers while Dontrelle Willis labored. Cabrera, who is hitting .341, drove in all of Detroit's runs in a 5-4 loss to the Oakland A's. Willis gave up nine hits and walked four over 5 1/3 innings for the Tigers.

   IF THE SEASON ENDED NOW....Washington's Cristian Guzman would win the NL batting title with a .325 average. Yep, .325 leads the pack and we're not even to Memorial Day. (The Dodgers' Andre Ethier -- at .392 -- is injured and doesn't have quite enough at bats to qualify). Still, averages at the top end of the spectrum look to be down this season, at least in the NL. "It is kind of bizarre," said Marlins outfielder Cody Ross, whose .306 average has him in contention. The last time a player won a batting title with an average as low as .325 was 1991 when Terry Pendleton captured the NL crown with a .319 average. Over in the AL, it's a different story, where the Twins' Justin Morneau leads the pack at .372 and Detroit's Magglio Ordonez rounds out the top 10 at .325.


    Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, rf; 7. Brett Hayes, c; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Josh Johnson, p.

    Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Wilson Valdez, ss; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Jayson Werth, rf; 6. Raul Ibanez, lf; 7. Juan Castro, 3b; 8. Carlos Ruiz, c; 9. Roy Halladay, p.

May 28, 2010

Marlins and B.P.: The "Junk Shot" Strategy

   By calling up Jorge Sosa, Jay Buente and Taylor Tankersley in a bid to stop the leak in their bullpen, the Marlins are employing a "junk shot" strategy similar to the one B.P. is using to plug the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico: jam the pipe full of miscellaneous material and pray the bleeding stops. It's worked in the past for the Marlins, who received late-season relief help from veteran arms with worn treads, like Chad Fox in 2003 and Brendan Donnelly last season. Then again, it doesn't always work (see Billy Koch in 2004, Ron Villone in 2005 and Armando Benitez, 2007). Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said that Sosa, who is on his fifth team in the past five years, will be used in long relief.

    But it's probably safe to believe that the Marlins, if they're still lingering in contention, will go searching for lefty bullpen help approaching the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. A couple of names that might interest them -- left-handers playing for sub.-.500 teams that could be looking to unload -- include Baltimore's Will Ohman and the White Sox's Matt Thornton. Both have trade-favorable contracts and would represent major upgrades over what now exists. The Marlins have gone after bullpen help in the past at the trading deadline, most notably during their 2003 World Series season when they snagged Ugueth Urbina from the Rangers. They had to give up Adrian Gonzalez for Urbina, but nobody with the Marlins regrets that trade even today. That half-year of Urbina was instrumental to that championship.


    -- Hanley Ramirez said he doesn't know whether Atlanta's Tim Hudson was taking dead aim at him when he plunked him with a pitch in the first inning on Thursday. But Marlins broadcaster Tommy Hutton questioned it immediately, and at least one other observer with the Marlins said he felt the pitch might have been intentional, perhaps for the "disrespectful comments" Ramirez made toward Gonzalez and Marlins teammates in the wake of his recent benching, as Ramirez and Hudson don't have any prior history of unrest. Hudson, who is said to be old-school in his thinking and was with the Braves with Gonzalez in 2005 and '06, looked immediately into the Marlins dugout after plunking Ramirez, who was none too pleased about it. Ramirez promptly stole second, pointing at himself as he stared toward the mound. And he made a pointing gesture toward Hudson when he crossed home plate later in the inning. "If he was trying to hit Hanley on purpose to make a statement," one Marlins player said of Hudson, "it kind of backfired on him."

    -- So let's say the Marlins call up Mike Stanton in early June, as most believe they will. Who would he replace? And if Chris Coghlan was to be sent down, who would bat leadoff? Gonzalez said he can't think of anyone other than the usual suspects -- Coghlan and Cameron Maybin -- to bat in a spot that has been highly unproductive for the Marlins this season. Ramirez has leadoff experience, but the Marlins don't want to revisit that role with their No. 3 hitter. Marlins leadoff hitters rank 29th of 30 teams with a .280 on-base percentage, just ahead of San Diego's .279 OBP from the leadoff spot. Last season, thanks to Coghlan, the Marlins ranked seventh in the majors -- and second in the NL -- with an OBP of .361 from the top hole.


   Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, rf; 7. Ronny Paulino, c; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

   Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Wilson Valdez, ss; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Raul Ibanez, lf; 6. Ross Gload, rf; 7. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 8. Carlos Ruiz, c; 9. Kyle Kendrick, p.

Phillies Go Cold at the Plate After Putting Away Binoculars

    Probably only a coincidence, but the Phillies, who are in town for a weekend series that begins tonight at Sun Life Stadium, have gone into a hitting and scoring funk in the wake of suspicions they were stealing signs. You might remember that story, which came to light after the Phillies' bullpen coach, Mick Billmeyer, was spotted using binoculars at Coors Field in Denver. On May 12, the commissioner's office warned the Phillies and ordered Billmeyer to stop using binoculars. Even the Marlins have wondered openly about the Phillies.Billmeyer

  Prior to May 12, the defending National League champions were scoring an average of 5.44 runs per game, which ranked second in the league.

  Since putting away the binoculars on May 12, they are averaging 3.79 RPG, good for a mediocre 12th.

   Before May 12, the Phillies were batting .272 as a team, third-best figure in the NL.

  Since May 12, they are hitting .251 -- 10th best.

  Before May 12, the Phillies were averaging 1.22 home runs per game -- 2nd in the NL.

   Since May 12, they have averaged 0.79 HRPG -- 8th.

   The Phillies enter tonight's contest after being shut out three straight games by the Mets. Yes, those would be the very same Mets the Marlins piled up 26 runs against when they swept the New Yorkers here in a four-game series from May 13-16. The Phillies hadn't been blanked three straight games since 1983. Overall, the Phillies have been shut out in four of their past five games. They have scored only four runs over their past six games, and 15 over their past nine.

Probably only a coincidence, though.

  (Photo: Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, via the Associated Press)

Marlins say good bye to Dan Meyer

Dan Meyer was one of the Marlins most valuable weapons in the bullpen last season. Now, he's looking for a job. 

Dan Meyer The 28-year old left-hander was designated for assignment after Thursday night's 8-3 loss to the Braves. Jorge Sosa, a 31-year old journeyman right-hander from the Dominican Republic, will be coming up from Triple A New Orleans to replace him. It was the third move made by the Marlins to their bullpen in the last 48 hours, a clear sign management is looking to fix an area of major concern.

Meyer, who went 3-2 with a career-best 3.09 ERA last season in 71 appearances, just never seemed to find himself this season out of spring training. In his 12th appearance for the Marlins this season Thursday, he walked five batters and gave up two hits and three earned runs, raising his ERA to 10.80 on the season. He also gave up a run without recording an out Wednesday, but prior to that appeared to be turning things around after going on the disabled list. From May 16-23, in four outings, he hadn't given up an earned run.

But the Marlins, apparently, saw enough Thursday to throw in the towel. Now, Meyer must clear waivers before the Marlins can reclaim him outright. Otherwise, he'll be pitching somewhere else soon. That idea, the more likely scenario, nearly brought Meyer to tears as he hugged teammates and manager Fredi Gonzalez in the clubhouse after the game.

"I got a lot to figure out," Meyer said. "This is tough to swallow. But I have to be a man about it. I'm not helping this team, running myself out there every few days and trying to pitch. It's not so hard on me as much I have some life-long friends in this clubhouse. This is probably the best I've fit in. I love these guys. It's going to be hard not showing up here everyday."

Meyer said he couldn't put a finger on what exactly has gone wrong for him.

"I've been working with [pitching coach Randy St. Claire] since I've been back, just working on finishing, just working through, trying to carry it to the mound," Meyer said. "I felt like I had some pretty good outings. I felt great in Chicago for 1 2/3 innings. I couldn't have felt better. It's just amazing how five days ago I thought I was back and then go out tonight and your scrambling. It's like quicksand. The more trouble I get, the harder I'm trying, the deeper it gets. If I could say one thing about myself, my downfall is I care way too much."

"It's got to be something. I feel great now. I feel healthy. The stuff's there. Confidence wise, I've taken a little bit of a hit, since last year. It's a long hard road to the top, but a short fall to the bottom. For me, mentally, it's going to be tough. But it's not just mental. Mechanically, I'm not right either. I'm falling. I probably have more walks now than I did all of last year. It's probably something ridiculous. I mean, I walked a run in, which is absolutely embarrassing. That's just not right. I can't expect 24 guys to play hard for me when I'm out there just sinking. So, just got to keep plugging. 28 years old, be a man about it, nose back to the grind stone."

Sosa, who was 4-1 with a 3.78 ERA in seven starts for the Zephyrs this season, has plenty of major league experience. In eight big league seasons with the Rays, Braves, Cardinals, Mets and most recently the Nationals, he has a 42-50 record with a career 4.72 ERA.

May 27, 2010

Struggling Phillies, Halladay-JJ showdown awaits

The first leg of the Marlins 10-game homestand came to an end Thursday night against the Braves. Now, the Marlins can officially turn their attention to first-place Phillies. 

Among the sexy storylines to follow during the three-game weekend series: Will a struggling Philadelphia lineup get back on track against an improved Marlins starting staff? And who will win Saturday night's big-time showdown between aces Roy Hallday and Josh Johnson Saturday night?

The Marlins took two of three from the Phillies at Citizens Back Park back on April 16-18. Pitching was huge. Ricky Nolasco tossed a complete game in a 5-1 Saturday night win. Then, Nate Robertson and a slew of relievers combined on a 2-0 shutout a day later.

The Phillies, losers of four straight, have been shutout in three of their last four games entering Thursday night's game at CitiField in New York. They've been outscored 37-15 over their eight previous games and have been held to one run or less five times during the stretch. The Marlins, however, aren't licking their chops. They know the Phillies have a lineup that can turn things around quickly.

Despite their struggles, Philadelphia is still hitting an NL-leading .277 with 18 homers and 114 runs scored (5.18 runs per game) on the road. 

"They have a pretty strong left-handed lineup," said Friday night starter Chris Volstad, who pointed out how the Phillies are 21-11 against right-handed starters this season -- the most wins by any team in the NL.

"I'll probably be working a lot of two-seamers, changeups, heck everything. I've been watching a lot of video to see how to attack them."

> Friday: Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (2-2, 5.66 ERA) vs. Marlins RHP Chris Volstad (3-5, 4.31 ERA)
> Saturday: Phillies RHP Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.22 ERA) vs. Marlins RHP Josh Johnson (5-1, 2.43 ERA)
> Sunday: Phillies LHP Jamie Moyer (5-4, 4.55 ERA) vs. Marlins RHP Anibal Sanchez (4-2, 3.23 ERA)