Okay, we now know the Marlins won't be going 162-0 this season. And it didn't take long for the critics to come out in force against closer Leo Nunez, who gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth on a two-out single by Josh Thole after issuing a leadoff walk. Then again, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez wasn't exactly hot stuff either.
Many will also question the decision by rookie right fielder Scott Cousins to back off on David Wright's fly ball, allowing it to drop in foul territory rather than make the catch for what would have been the first out of the decisive 10th. Cousins explained the decision afterward. With Jose Reyes at second and Angel Pagan at first, he figured both runners would have tagged had he caught the ball. Reyes would have. I'm not so sure about Pagan. At any rate, Wright received a second chance and made the Marlins pay with his go-ahead single. "Looking back on it," Cousins said afterward, "I probably should have made the play."
That's not what cost the Marlins the game, in my opinon. What killed them was their failure to hit Jon Niese. Niese gave up two runs and threw 29 pitches in the first inning. He then threw just 58 pitches over the next six innings -- an average of just over nine pitches an inning -- while retiring every batter but three over that span. The Marlins had three hits in the first and three more in the ninth when they rallied to tie the game and send it into extra innings. But they had only one hit -- an Emilio Bonifacio single -- in the seven innings in between.
Some interesting comments by Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco afterward, who went on and on, raving about the defense. Nolasco made it through seven innings, in large part due to outstanding defensive support. Chris Coghlan made a diving catch in center and also made a couple of other good reads on balls hit in his direction. Bonifacio, playing in place of injured Mike Stanton in right, made a heads-up play in the seventh. After Thole singled, Bonifacio threw behind the runner and nailed him at first before he could get back to the bag.
Said Nolasco: "I can't say enough about the defense today. They kept me in the game a lot longer than probably most days would ahve gone with a lot of those plays. I can get used to that. It was a good feeling, all those plays being made and not throwing the extra pitches, and keeping the pitch count down and just throwing more strikes, (thinking), 'Hey, you got the defense behind you." And they definitely helped me out, more than I can say tonight."
You haven't heard a Marlins pitcher talk like that about the Marlins D in many a moon.
On to Donnie Murphy. He was drilled in the right wrist -- yes, the same wrist he dislocated last September -- by Niese in the seventh.
"I was definitely scared," Murphy said. "I thought I broke it at first. It's one of those things where you panic right away. But as soon as we got in here and we go it x-rayed, they told me it was a little bruise. It was definitely a relief. Luckily, they got me in the fat part of the hand, which helped a lot. I guess I lucked out on this one."
Murphy said he should be okay in a day or two. With Stanton also day to day, the Marlins could ahve as few as 23 players available for Sunday's rubber match between the two teams. Still, it could be a lot worse.