NEW YORK -- Mike Stanton's opposite-field blast into the upper deck at Citi Field last night put him into a tie for the National League home run lead with Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp. The three players have each hit 31 home runs, and the race figures to go down to the wire.
Looming just behind the leaders are Dan Uggla and Lance Berkman with 30 home runs each, and Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard with 29. No Marlin has ever won a home run title. It is also looking like the NL home run king will finish with fewer than 40 for the first time since Fred McGriff topped the league in 1992 with 35 blasts.
Stanton's home run last night off D.J. Carrasco was the first ever hit into the upper deck in right field at Citi Field by a right-handed hitter. Afterward, Mets manager Terry Collins said he has never seen such raw power like that possessed by Stanton.
The rest of Hanley Ramirez's season was cast in doubt on Tuesday when he left his rehab game with Single A Jupiter complaining of discomfort in his injured left shoulder. Marlins team official said he would return to Miami to have the shoulder re-examined.
The Marlins were hoping to add Ramirez to the lineup, most likely on Friday when they open a homestand against the Phillies. But Ramirez left tonight's game in Port Charlotte. Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said not much is known about the extent of the injury at this point. But, as Beinfest pointed out, "it's not good."
The Marlins have gone 10-35 in games that Ramirez has not started for them this season.
NEW YORK -- The word out of Chicago this morning is that the White Sox are renewing discussions with the Marlins about compensation for Ozzie Guillen, that coming from the Chicago Sun-Times (read the story here).
This wouldn't be the first time the two teams have discussed the manager. As you'll recall, the Marlins requested permission to talk to Guillen at the end of last season but refused to give up a player -- reportedly Logan Morrison -- in order to do that.
No surprise that the two sides are back at it, as the strain between Guillen and Sox G.M. Kenny Williams appears to be worsening, according to the newspaper's sources.
Despite the recent issues involving Morrison, I can't imagine the Marlins would even think about dealing the young outfielder, whose potential value in terms of producing wins is greater than any one manager's. But the managing situation is sure to be one of the topics discussed on Wednesday when the Marlins' top execs gather in the Big Apple to meet with owner Jeffrey Loria.
What do you think?
NEW YORK -- The Marlins are calling in all the big guns for a Wednesday pow-wow, presumably to go over what went wrong this season and to discuss ways to make repairs before the team moves into new ballpark in 2012.
Arriving for the summit, most likely at owner Jeffrey Loria's New York office: president David Samson, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, general manager Mike Hill, assistant g.m. Dan Jennings, vice president of player development and scouting Jim Fleming, and front office special assistants Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jeff Conine.
These end-of-season meetings are not anything new, so nothing special should be read into it. But, considering the many failures of this year's club, they should have plenty to discuss, everything from the current on-field staff -- including manager Jack McKeon -- to the current roster makeup.
If you could suggest one change -- and only one -- what would it be?
Just when you think it couldn't get much worse for Chris Coghlan, it did. Much worse. Coghlan had the game from heck for Triple A New Orleans. Check out this story from the New Orleans Times Picayune:
Mendoza is 11-5 and leads the Pacific Coast League in earned-run average, entering the game with a 1.45 ERA since the All-Star break. A porous defense was the last thing the Zephyrs needed.
But former National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, trying to recover his lost batting stroke in the minors, looked lost in center field, missing four balls that either bounced off his glove or fell just out his reach.
After an especially rough fifth inning in which Coghlan couldn’t haul in two difficult but catchable fly balls, he removed himself from the game.
“He took himself out,” Zephyrs Manager Greg Norton said. “He said his knee was a little sore from when he was hit by a pitch two nights ago, and he took himself out of the game.”
The Rookie of the Year for the Marlins in 2009 after beginning the season in New Orleans, Coghlan has been hampered recently with knee and elbow injuries and has struggled offensively this season.
He has been a key member of the Marlins outfield since his rookie season, though always considered more of an asset on offensive than defense. Coghlan originally was a second baseman, but he converted to the outfield in the minor leagues.
In reference to Coghlan’s tough night in center field, Norton said, “Are they tough plays? Yes. Can Cogs make those plays? Yes. How much is his knee is bothering him? We’ll find out. If he says his knee is bothering him or he’s not able to play the way he’s accustomed to, there’s no point in running him out there. We’ll be cautious and see how it feels tomorrow.”
Coghlan wasn’t charged with any errors, but he appeared to make plays on long fly balls more difficult by taking winding routes. He constantly seemed to be flat on his stomach in center field with the ball rolling away from him.
Routine plays were in short supply all night for the Zephyrs, with Omaha’s offense knocking balls all over the field. Starter Darin Downs surrendered seven runs on 12 hits over five innings.
Matt Dominguez’s second-inning home run accounted for the Zephyrs’ only run.
“I really like how he’s getting those great hands through the zone,” Norton said. Dominguez is hitting .500 in his last eight games.
After that, Mendoza cruised and the Omaha offense went to work. The Storm Chasers scored three runs in the fifth and extended its lead with five runs in the sixth inning, then tacked on three more in the seventh. Pitcher Zach Simons’ line was even uglier than Downs’: six runs in just two innings.
Every batter in Omaha’s starting lineup had at least one hit, and seven Storm Chasers had multiple hits.
Scattering six hits over seven innings, Mendoza held the Zephyrs hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“He has that ball that runs and that cutter, and he gets it off guys barrels in hitters’ counts,” Norton said.
Omaha is most likely leaded for the playoffs, and Mendoza is the pitcher they will lean on.
Florida first-round pick (14th overall) Jose Fernandez made his professional debut Saturday afternoon with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Marlins. Fernandez pitched two innings, allowing one run (unearned) on one hit (broken-bag single) while striking out two against the GCL Mets in St. Lucie.
Fernandez, who has thrown several bullpen sessions in Jupiter since signing for $2 million just before the Aug. 16 deadline, was originally scheduled to pitch Thursday, but inclement weather from Hurricane Irene canceled the game and pushed his appearance back.
Reports about Fernandez's stuff on Saturday were encouraging: His fastball sat between 94-98 mph, and he mixed in several 83-85 curveballs and 80-81 changeups.
Saturday's start was the Cuban defector's first against live batters in more than three months, since he pitched in the Florida 6A state semifinal for Tampa Alonso High against Park Vista on May 24 -- ironically, that game was also played at Digital Domain Park, the Mets' spring training, Florida State League and GCL home.
It will be interesting to see what Florida's front office decides to do next with Fernandez, as the GCL Marlins have only one game remaining on their schedule. The next step in the developmental ladder, short-season Jamestown, continues play through Sept. 4. Low Class A Greensboro wraps up its season on Sept. 5, but the Grasshoppers have a chance of making the South Atlantic League playoffs -- assuming Hickory (Rangers) wins the second-half Northern division title, Greensboro would need to make up a two-game defecit to catch Kannapolis (White Sox).
Presumably, Fernandez should be able to make at least one more start before the season ends. Either way, early indications are that Fernandez will return to Jupiter to take part in the Florida Instructional League.
-- Matt Forman
PHILADELPHIA -- Bad news for the Marlins: their game on Saturday against the Phillies was rained out. The good news? They won the series, albeit one that was trimmed down to just one game due to Hurricane Irene.
"Feels like the All-Star break," manager Jack McKeon said of the Marlins, who will end up playing just one game in four days because of bad weather.
There will be no game on Sunday due to the threat of the hurricane, and even Monday's doubleheader in New York is iffy depending on what damage the storm causes there.
Saturday's game is expected to be made as part of a doubleheader here in Philly on Sept. 15.
Everyone in the rotation is being pushed back another day, with Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco now scheduled to pitch in Monday's DH at Citi Field.
The Marlins plan on remaining in Philadelphia tonight in order to ride out the storm before heading over to New York on Sunday night.
"We'll see what Irene decides," said Marlins catcher John Buck. "Mother Nature is in charge right now."
The Marlins defeated the Phillies, 6-5, on Friday in what turned out to be the only game of the series.
"To be able to marinate in a win might be a good thing," Buck said, trying to put a positive spin on matters.
PHILADELPHIA -- That doubleheader on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park? Never mind. With Hurricane Irene moving quickly up the East Coast, the decision was made a moment ago to postpone the second game of the day-night doubleheader. Instead, the Marlins and Phillies will try to play one game -- at 1:05 p.m. -- though the rains are scheduled to arrive as early as 10 a.m.
The postponed game will now be made up on Sept. 15 in Philadelphia.
The Marlins, who do not play Sunday, are scheduled to play a doubleheader in New York on Monday. But, due to the uncertainty surrounding the storm, the team will remain in Philadelphia throughout the weekend.
Needless to say, there's quite a bit of grumbling among Marlins players and coaches. They were already forced to play a doubleheader in South Florida on Wednesday against the Reds due to the storm, and flew up to Philadelphia on Wednesday night. They spent Thursday in the City of Brotherly Love doing nothing.
Manager Jack McKeon wondered why the Phillies couldn't make up the postponed game in South Florida when they're in town for a scheduled three-game series Sept. 2-4. Reliever Mike Dunn thought the Marlins and Mets should flip-flop their upcoming series, wtih the Mets heading down to Florida for the upcoming Monday-through-Thursday series and the Marlins going back to New York Sept. 5-7 for games scheduled at Sun Life Stadium.
Tomorrow's starters: Anibal Sanchez vs. Roy Halladay.
-- Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is playing in a rehab game tonight for Single A Jupiter. Ramirez, on the disabled list since Aug. 3 with a left shoulder sprain, could return to the Marlins as soon the New York series. But McKeon said it might be better to have Ramirez play several games with the Hammerheads to make sure his shoulder is right before adding him to the Marlins roster, perhaps on Sept. 1 when rosters can expand.
Sunday's game in Philadelphia has been canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Irene, which is expected to wind its way up the East Coast over the next several days. The Marlins, who played a doubleader on Wednesday against the Reds over worries that the storm would threaten South Florida on Thursday, will now face the Phillies in a day-night doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.
With a twinbill already scheduled for Monday in New York, the Marlins will end up playing three doubleheaders in six days, creating some havoc with their rotation.
The only certain starter for the Marlins on Saturday is Anibal Sanchez, who will go in Game 1 (1:05 p.m.) of the DH against Cliff Lee. The second game (7:05 p.m.) starter is to be determined. Whoever draws that assignment will be stuck facing Roy Halladay.
Tom Koehler (10-7, 5.16 for Triple A New Orleans) pitched Monday for the Zephyrs and would be in line to start on Saturday, but the Marlins would have to make room for him on their 40-man roster. Elih Villanueva is scheduled to start tonight for New Orleans. Brad Hand started Tuesday for Double A Jacksonvile.
Logan Morrison’s return energized the Marlins in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader, but Florida couldn’t carry the momentum over into the second contest, as the Reds rolled to a 3-2 win behind eight shutout innings from Bronson Arroyo.
Although the Fish split the twi-night doubleheader with Cincinnati in front of an announced crown of 22,505, they dropped their sixth straight series, which includes 17 losses in their last 20 games.
The Reds jumped on Florida starter Chris Volstad early in game two, stringing together four straight hits in just 11 pitches to push across a pair of runs at the game’s outset.
“Once again we got bit by that first inning,” manager Jack McKeon said. “Down 3-0 and we don’t start hitting until the sixth or seventh inning, it’s tough.”
But other than Joey Votto’s 24th home run of the season — his second of the doubleheader — Volstad didn’t allow another hit after the first frame.
“I felt like I settled down and got a quality start, kept the team right there,” said Volstad, who gave up three runs on six hits while striking out five. “You go out there and try hard not to give up runs in the first inning and the next thing you know a bloop hit scores a run. It’s the type of thing that you start thinking about it, it happens. Sometimes it’s hard to explain.”
The closest the Marlins came to cracking Arroyo came in the seventh. Mike Stanton crushed Arroyo’s hanging breaking ball, but he hit it off the end of the bat. Stanton, who was in a home-run trot, quickly scampered into second when he realized the ball had caromed off the top of the left-field wall. Greg Dobbs moved Stanton to third with a ground ball to the right side, but Gaby Sanchez and Bryan Petersen popped out to end the threat.
Florida also had base runners in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth innings off Arroyo, but the Fish were unable to snap his scoreless stint.
Arroyo struck out only one batter, but he worked effortlessly by locating his fastball and mixing his offspeed stuff, inducing 15 fly ball outs. He allowed six hits.
The Marlins' breakthrough in the ninth off Reds closer Francisco Cordero wasn’t quite enough to sweep the double-dip. Dobbs doubled home Stanton, who had reached on an error, and Sanchez singled to left to bring the winning run to the plate. But Petersen flew out to the warning track and pinch-hitter Jose Lopez grounded out.
“You’ve got to be proud the way they came back, the guys did the best they could” McKeon said. “They’ve been playing great the last couple games, and that’s a good sign going on the road.”
After Thursday’s game was canceled and rescheduled for Wednesday, the Marlins will travel to the Northeast for an eight-game road trip against National League East foes, starting with the Phillies.
-- Matt Forman