CINCINNATI -- Win or lose tonight, the Florida Marlins are going to finish the month of April with more wins than they've ever had before.
The Marlins ace, virtually untouchable in his first five starts, will go for the team's 17th victory when he faces reigning NL MVP Joey Votto and the defending NL Central champion Reds (13-13). Votto was on deck last night when Leo Nunez struckout Jay Bruce looking with a runner on second to end a 7-6 Marlins victory, only the third victory in the Queen City for Florida since 2007.
Tonight, fans at Great American Ball Park will be handed a Votto bobblehead as they enter the stadium.
JJ is hoping to ruin the experience after that and make a little Marlins history in the process by becoming only the second pitcher to enter May undefeated. Dontrelle Willis, who is down in Triple A Louisville for the Reds, is the only other Marlins starter to achieve that feat. He went 5-0 in 2005.
Johnson (3-0, 1.00 ERA) has yet to allow a hit in the first three innings of all five of his previous starts this season. Opposing hitters are 0 for 45 with four walks and 20 strikeouts during those innings. According to research done by Trent McCotter of the SABR records committee, the last pitcher to have a streak like that was the Mets Sid Fernandez, who had batters go 0-for-50 in the first three innings at one stretch from April 30 to Sept. 25 in 1990.
According to research done by yours truly, the Marlins enter their final game of April with the second lowest ERA (3.18) for the opening month of the season in franchise history. Only the 2005 Marlins, which began 14-8, had a lower ERA (2.28).
Marlins lineup vs. Reds: 1. Chris Coghlan CF, 2. Omar Infante 2B, 3. Hanley Ramirez SS, 4. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 5. Mike Stanton RF, 6. Greg Dobbs 3B, 7. John Buck C, 8. Emilio Bonifacio LF, 9. Josh Johnson.