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47 posts from April 2011

April 10, 2011

Was Edward Mujica Retaliating?

   HOUSTON -- Edward Mujica is known for his accuracy. Entering Sunday, the reliever had hit only two batters with pitches in 179 games covering more than 233 innings. He's uncorked only five wild pitches and is usually around the strike zone, issuing an average of just under 1 1/2 walks per nine innings for his career.

   Maybe it was just one of those freak things when his very first pitch to Houston's Bill Hall struck him in the buttocks. More than likely, though, it was not, that the pitch was earmarked for flesh in retaliation for Friday's collision at second when Hall took out Hanley Ramirez with a hard slide.

   Mujica and the Marlins claimed the pitcher was simply throwing inside to Hall, per the scouting report. But home plate umpire Jim Joyce wasn't buying it and promptly gave Mujica the heave-ho.

    Any thoughts? And if you believe Mujica was retaliating, do you believe it was the right thing to do considering what happened to Ramirez on Friday?

Clay Hensley Meets The Ex-Prez

   HOUSTON -- No matter what happens on the mound, the highlight of the Houston series for reliever Clay Hensley, who grew up in these parts, will be meeting former President and fellow Texan, George H.W. Bush. The senior Bush popped in the Marlins clubhouse just before Friday's game and exchanged handshakes and greetings with players, coaches and team personnel.

    "One of the things I always wanted to do in my life was meet one of the Bushes, maybe sit down and have lunch with George W. or meet his dad," said Hensley, who was born in nearby Tomball. "I just read his (W's) biography."

    When Hensley heard that Bush senior was planning to attend Friday's home opener for the Astros, he practically pleaded with one of the clubhouse managers to arrange a meeting with the former prez.

     "I'm, like, 'Dude, do you think at all I'd get a chance to meet him, maybe have him come down to the locker room or whatever?,'" Hensley asked.

     Sure enough, Bush showed up shortly before first pitch.

      "It was pretty cool," Hensley said. "He's, like, 'Where's that Texas guy I came to meet? Where's that Houston guy?' Yeah, that was sweet."Prezbush

April 09, 2011

Greg Dobbs Talking World Series

     HOUSTON -- No kidding. Greg Dobbs was talking World Series after Saturday's win over the Astros. He wasn't making any bold predictions, not at the 8-game mark of the season.

      But when asked about the Marlins' penchant for producing come-from-behind wins so far (four of their five victories have been of the come-from-behind variety) Dobbs tossed it out there.

      "Being able to come from behind like that shows the heart of this team," Dobbs said. "You have to have that if you're going to get to October and get to the World Series. You have to be able to come from behind. You have to be able to deal with adversity and winning the close games, as well. Those are huge. It's a very good sign for this team."

     Lest you believe Dobbs doesn't know what he's talking about, consider that he played in two World Series with the Phillies, and won the big ring with Philly in 2008.

     Dobbs was a big reason why the Marlins rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win 7-5 at Minute Maid Park. Inserted into the lineup to replace injured Hanley Ramirez, Dobbs drove in three runs with three hits, including a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth off Bud Norris.

     -- With a double in the seventh, Wes Helms broke an 0 for 11 dry spell as a pinch-hitter.

     -- The Marlins had six doubles on Saturday, including three straight in the seventh by Helms, Chris Coghlan and Omar Infante.

     -- Mike Stanton was back in the lineup and hammered a line drive, RBI double to deep center in the sixth.

Mike Stanton Returns to Lineup; Hanley Out

    Mike Stanton is back. Hanley Ramirez is out.

    The Marlins posted tonight's lineup a moment ago, and for the first time since April 1, Stanton's name is on it. Stanton will be playing right and batting fourth.

     As expected, Ramirez won't be playing after injuring his left leg on Friday. Donnie Murphy will move over to play short while Greg Dobbs receives the start at third. Logan Morrison moves up in the order to bat third.

     1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Mike Stanton, rf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Donnie Murphy, ss; 9. Javier Vazquez, p.

Call of Duty: Wounded Morrison Helps Injured Ramirez Off Field

   HOUSTON -- It was a scene straight out of a war movie. Despite being injured himself, Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison went to the aid of his wounded comrade -- Hanley Ramirez -- and helped him off the field in last night's game.

    As pretty much all of the attention in the post-win aftermath was being focused on Ramirez and his injury, which turned out to be a bruised left leg, Morrison was limping around the Marlins clubhouse with large ice packs encasing his left knee and right ankle, a wide, bloody swath of flesh missing from his left forearm, and a sore hip.

    Three batters before Ramirez was taken out at second by Bill Hall's hard slide, Morrison slammed into the unforgiving wall in left at Minute Maid Park while going up for Brett Wallace's double.

     "Apparently there is a wall in left field, and it doesn't move," Morrison said with dry humor. "That really got my hip and my arm."

     Morrison isn't sure how or when he hurt his knee and said he rolled his ankle while cutting off Michael Bourn's single to left-center in the eighth. But he was hobbling noticeably and the fresh wound on his arm continued to bleed.

     Even though he had crashed into the wall minutes before, Morrison and team trainer Sean Cunningham took Ramirez by either side and helped him off the field and into the dugout. Though the injury appeared to be severe at the time, the Marlins later announced Ramirez had a bruised leg and would be day to day.

     "When they first came out there, he was rolling around and screaming in pain," Morrison said of Ramirez. "I was probably the biggest one out there at the time, so gave him something to hold on to. He's heavy. Hopefully he's all right because we need him."

      The hunch here -- and it's purely a hunch -- is that Ramirez will not play the rest of the Houston series, use Monday's day off to heal some more, and return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Marlins open a three-game series in Atlanta.

      If Mike Stanton returns to the lineup tonight, manager Edwin Rodriguez can go with Donnie Murphy and Emilio Bonifacio at short and third, either way.

       -- Nice night for backup catcher Brett Hayes, who made the most of his first start behind the plate. Hayes had a pair of doubles and threw out Jason Bourgeois at second to end the game.

       -- Ricky Nolasco and Hunter Pence waged quite a pitcher/hitter war Friday. Pence fouled off three, two-strike pitches in the fourth inning before grounding to second. But it was their eighth inning battle that stood out. With the potential tying run at third and one out, Nolasco and Pence engaged in a 10-pitch at bat in which the Astros' outfielder fouled off four, two-strike pitches before striking out on a slider down and away.

        "He was fouling everything off," Nolasco said. "In that situation, I'm not going to give into him. It's one of those things where it's just who's going to win. He was fouling off some really good pitches there. I knew the only way I was going to be able to strike him out would be on a slider, and I would just get him to chase something. I was able to get him to chase something out, and it was a sigh of relief. When you got a guy on third with the game on the line and less than two outs, being able to strike that guy out was huge for me. I had to dig deep and make a big pitch."

April 08, 2011

Hanley Ramirez Injured (Bruised Leg), Helped Off Field

   HOUSTON -- Hanley Ramirez had to be assisted off the field, unable to place any weight on his left leg, after being taken out at second by the Astros' Bill Hall while trying to turn a double play on Friday.

   Hall slid hard into Ramirez's left ankle in the seventh inning. But the Marlins reported that Ramirez suffered a bruised shin, just above his ankle, and is day to day.

   Ramirez was writhing in pain near the bag for several minutes while team trainer Sean Cunningham attended to the fallen star for the Marlins. Cunningham and left fielder Logan Morrison then assisted him off the field and into the dugout, with Ramirez grimacing the entire way.

   The Marlins trailed 2-1 when, with runners at first and second and one out, J.R. Towles grounded to second baseman Omar Infante. Infante threw to Ramirez for the force at second. Just after Ramirez threw on to first in a failed attempt to complete the double play, Hall slid into his left ankle.

    Both players lay on the ground for several minutes while trainers for the two teams came out to look at them. Hall eventually got up and walked off the field on his own.

Bullpen Depleted As Marlins Open Road Trip

    HOUSTON -- Take three extra-inning games, combine it with a very short outing by starter Javier Vazquez, and it all adds up to a short bullpen for the Marlins as they open a nine-game road trip tonight. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said relievers Clay Hensley, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica will not be available tonight when the Marlins face the Astros in Houston's home opener. And Rodriguez said Mike Dunn is iffy.

    That leaves Rodriguez with three available relievers for certain: Brian Sanches, Leo Nunez and Randy Choate, who is usually good for only one or two batters.

     Only the Kansas City Royals have logged more bullpen innings so far (28 1/3) than the Marlins (25 1/3).

      "Sunday, when Javy Vazquez went not even three innings, that really hurt," Rodriguez said. "That's when everything (caused) a domino effect. Even with the day off (on Monday) there were way too many innings for the bullpen."

      Obviously, Rodriguez needs innings tonight out of starter Ricky Nolasco to help give the 'pen a much-needed rest.

       DAILY MIKE STANTON UPDATE: Rodriguez said he is optimistic that Mike Stanton (left hamstring) will be back in the lineup on Saturday and return to the clean-up spot in the order. "I feel very confident that he's going to be able to be on the field tomorrow," Rodriguez said. "He's getting better every day, so I can see him being on the field tomorrow." Stanton took part in outfield drills during batting practice at Minute Maid Park.


       Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Logan Morrison, lf; 6. Donnie Murphy, 3b; 7. Emilio Bonifacio, rf; 8. Brett Hayes, c; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p.

       Astros: 1. Michael Bourn, cf; 2. Angel Sanchez, ss; 3. Hunter Pence, rf; 4. Carlos Lee, lf; 5. Brett Wallace, 1b; 6. Chris Johnson, 3b; 7. Bill Hall, 2b; 8. J.R. Towles, c; 9. Wandy Rodriguez, p.

       Umpires: HP -- Jim Wolf; 1B -- Derryl Cousins; 2B -- Jim Joyce; 3B -- Ron Kulpa.

Ho-Hum Homestand Ends On Dull Note

   HOUSTON -- Greetings from H-Town, where the Marlins arrive to kick off a three-city, nine-game tour that also takes them to Atlanta and Philly.

    Missed watching last night's game due to travel. But from what I'm reading, it appears the two main issues are 1) Defense, with much ire directed at Hanley Ramirez and 2) Hitting with runners in scoring position, which remains a soft spot.

    First, a general observation. Going 3-3 to start the season against the Mets and Nationals -- two supposedly inferior teams to the Marlins -- doesn't exactly build promise for the rest of the season. They had the Nats by the throat, with Josh Johnson on the mound and a chance to sweep last night, and were taken down in the 11th. They've already played in three extra-inning games, losing two of them.

    Runners in Scoring Position: The Marlins were 1 for 11 in RSIP situations last night and rank 22nd in the majors in that category with a .211 (15 for 71) average. Worth noting, though, is the fact that of the eight teams beneath them, none have had nearly the same number of opportunities. The Rays, for example, trail the pack with a .139 average but have had roughly half the number of chances (36) with RISP. So the Marlins are at least putting runners in position to score, just not driving them home. And, again, it's early and the numbers tend to be skewed. Does anyone really believe the Orioles will continue hitting at a .421 clip with RISP?

    Defense: This was supposed to be a major area of improvement for the Marlins but they head into the Houston series with the most errors in the National League -- 7 -- after being charged with two more (Ramirez, John Buck) last night. With three errors, Ramirez is reponsible for nearly half of the team's fielding gaffes. In fact, only Houston shortstop Angel Sanchez has committed as many defensive miscues so far among NL fielders at any position. I'm aware that there's a general perception, with evidence to support, that there are times Ramirez doesn't try as hard as he should. Behind the scenes, though, that has not been the case. Ramirez has been putting in extra time working on his defense, so much so that infield coach Perry Hill said he's had to tell Ramirez "enough already" and order him off the practice field. I was also told that after making a throwing error in the Mets game on Sunday, Ramirez went directly to the dugout, sat himself next to Hill, and went over the play to figure out how he could do better. Still, three errors is three errors, and perhaps you start to wonder how much longer Ramirez should remain at shortstop in the long term.

April 06, 2011

Donnie Murphy -- Mr. Clutch

     Game-ending hits are starting to become Donnie Murphy's specialty. How else do you explain the fact that of Murphy's 17 total hits for the Marlins in parts of two seasons, three have produced instant wins -- including his bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 10th on Tuesday?

     That's right. Seventeen hits in 56 total at bats as a Marlin, and this guy -- this unsuspecting Clark Kent minus the glasses -- has worn the Superman cape three times. I know all about the argument that there is no such thing as a "clutch hitter," statistically at least. It used to come up all the time with Edgar Renteria when he was a Marlin.

     But three walk-off hits in a matter of 32 Marlins games? That's crazy.

     July 19, 2010 -- Marlins trail the Rockies, 8-7, when Murphy connects on a two-out, pinch-hit, two-run home run to win the game.

      July 23, 2010 -- Marlins trail the Braves, 6-5, when Murphy goes in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and two outs. With Murphy at the plate, a passed ball scores the tying run. Murphy then singles, driving in the game-winner.

      April 5, 2011 -- Marlins and Nationals are tied 2-2 in the 10th when Murphy ends it with a two-out, bases-loaded single.

       "It never gets old," Murphy said following the Marlins' 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. "Having a couple last year, I was really comfortable coming into that at bat."

     At least someone is comfortable in the Marlins in clutch situations. Marlins hitters were an ice cold 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday going into the 10th. Gaby Sanchez ended the drought when he singled with runners at first and second, though his hit to left failed to drive in Omar Infante from second.

      SOLID NIGHT FOR THE MARLINS PEN -- it was an overall strong night for the Marlins bullpen, as five Marlins relievers combined to deliver 4 1/3 shutout innings. Clay Hensley gave up the only hit over that span, and Mike Dunn put himself in a bases-loaded jam with a couple of walks that he managed to work out of. But Leo Nunez pitched a clean ninth and Edward Mujica did the same in the 10th, earning the win. Ryan Webb also contributed.

April 05, 2011

Edwin Rodriguez: Mike Stanton Only 65-70 Percent

    So much for Mike Stanton returning to the lineup after Monday's off day. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Stanton had a MRI on Monday that showed a slightly strained left hamstring, one that will the Marlins' clean up hitter to pinch-hitting duties for the next three or four days.

    Stanton hasn't played since Opening Night when he left Friday's game after the fifth inning.

    Rodriguez said there are no plans to place Stanton on the disabled list. But, if it's four days before he returns to the lineup -- and that sounded like an optimistic scenario -- it'll be eight days that he has been unable to play.

    Rodriguez said not having Stanton in the lineup is obviously significant.

    "We have a very small margin of error, and when you take Michael Stanton away from that lineup, it's a huge difference," Rodriguez said. "Not having him in the middle of the order is a huge setback."

    BULLPEN NOTES: With the exception of Brian Sanches, who went four innings on Sunday, every reliever is available tonight for the Marlins. That includes Edward Mujica, who left Sunday's game with a mild hamstring issue.

    MURPHY BACK IN LINEUP: While Stanton remains idle, third baseman Donnie Murphy returned to the lineup. Murphy's right hand was hit by a pitch on Saturday.


    Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, cf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 5. Logan Morrison, lf; 6. John Buck, c; 7. Donnie Murphy, 3b; 8. Emilio Bonifacio, rf; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

    Nationals: 1. Jerry Hairston, 2b; 2. Jayson Werth, rf; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam LaRoche, 1b: 5. Michael Morse, lf; 6. Rick Ankiel, cf; 7. Wilson Ramos, c; 8. Alex Cora, ss; 9. Jason Marquis, p.