HOUSTON -- After working their butts off in relief of Josh Johnson Friday in San Diego and working overtime to save Heath Bell's rear-end two nights prior to that in San Francisco, the Marlins bullpen has to feel pretty well rested heading into Tuesday night's game at Minute Maid Park.
With Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano tossing complete games two of the last three nights, Marlins relievers have played the role of happy spectator for the most part.
New closer Steve Cishek, who worked a career-high three innings of relief Friday to pick up the win, has had three days off. Edward Mujica has pitched just once over the last four days.
Right-hander Ryan Webb, who along with left-handed specialist Randy Choate and Mujica are the only relievers to work since Saturday, said despite Bell's struggles the bullpen has proven over this 7-0 West Coast trip it can get the job done in some pressure situations.
"That's what you need," Webb said. "That's what's going to count. Our goal is to get to the postseason, and that's going to help in the postseason. That's going to help in a tight race at the end of the year in this tough division.
"We're going to be playing some good teams, but we've got a good team too. So we've played a lot of close games, a lot of good pitching matchups. So to get the experience early is good for a lot of guys, especially for some of the younger guys that we do have, stepping up to do these late-inning roles. We've got guys that can pitch in all those situations. So it gives [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] a lot of options to go to."
Take Bell (0-3, 4 blown saves, 11.42 ERA) and demoted left-hander Mike Dunn out of the mix and the Marlins bullpen would rank much better than sixth in the National League in ERA (3.45 ERA). They also might not rank right behind Colorado for the league-lead with seven blown saves.
Together, Webb, Cishek, Mujica, Choate, and right-hander Chad Gaudin have combined for a 1.81 ERA in 59 2/3 innings with 49 strikeouts and 21 walks. Opponents have hit just .189 off those five in 216 at-bats.
> The Marlins are off to their best May start in franchise history. The previous best start was 5-2, done three times (last, 2008). The Marlins finished that month with a 16-11 record, which tied for the most May wins in Club history (also, 1997 and 1996). The Franchise record for most wins in any month is 19, done in August 1997.
> Marlins (15-14): 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2. Emilio Bonifacio CF, 3. Hanley Ramirez 3B, 4. Logan Morrison LF, 5. Omar Infante 2B, 6. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 7. Gaby Sanchez 1B, 8. John Buck C, 9. Anibal Sanchez P.