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With confidence growing, some Marlins see 11-game road trip as measuring stick

The Marlins are going to be California dreaming after they wrap up their nine-game home stand against the Mets this afternoon.

It's going to be a three-city, 11-game, 11-day tour through San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- and a homecoming for four players: Giancarlo Stanton, Reed Johnson, Christian Yelich and Casey McGehee. 

Although we're still only in May, some guys are also looking the road trip as a measuring stick. The Marlins after all have the best home record in baseball at 16-5, but they are 2-10 on the road.

"It's in the middle of our 20 game [in 20 days] stretch so it's going to be tough. That's going to prove where we're at I think," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "We haven't played well on the road, but we've scored runs, kept games close, had opportunities to win. We just couldn't finish it.

"I think this road trip is going to be a big test for us to do that. We're facing the Dodgers again -- who we just got done facing. They're in their home ballpark and obviously they're going to want to repay the favor. I think we feel pretty good against those guys. I think we're going to stay strong."

Johnson, who won a division title with the Braves last season, said he feels like the team's successful homestand had been a huge confidence builder especially for the younger players in the clubhouse.

"I think the older guys kind of already know how good we are, but some of the young guys in the room it may take a few series like we've had now to kind of solidify the fact that 'Hey man we can be here for awhile, late into the summer and really be a contender,'" Johnson said. "Hopefully what we're doing now and hopefully what we can do on the road -- kind of change some things up on the road and start winning some games on the road -- that can benefit  all the young guys as far as their confidence is concerned."

Johnson said he doesn't see this road trip "as do or die," but "it could be a huge confidence builder."

"The reason we weren't winning on the road earlier was because we weren't playing all that well to begin with," Johnson said. "Now, all of a sudden we've taken this homestand to really get us on a roll and hopefully we can take it over to the West Coast. I think a lot of those parks on the West Coast are similar to ours. They play big, especially at night. We're a gap-to-gap hitting team besides one guy that can hit it out of any park at any time of night. So, all those things can play to our advantage."

> Henderson Alvarez's shutout on Tuesday -- his third over his last eight starts -- made him the youngest pitcher with three shutouts in a span of eight starts since Mark Mulder in 2001.

What's the common thread for Alvarez when he's dominant?

"When he has that downward angle he's tough to beat," Saltalamacchia said. "I think that's the consistency he needs, feeling that downward angle. You don't have to throw 95. You can throw 90, 91, just throw good pitches. His ball moves so much."

As a staff, the Marlins have five shutouts, one fewer than National League-leading St. Louis. The starting rotation ranks seventh in ERA among all major league teams (11-7, 3.25).

> Saltalamacchia said he expects Jacob Turner, roughed up by the Dodgers this past weekend in his first start since coming off the disabled list, to bounce back against the Padres Thursday night.

"He just needs some innings," Saltalamacchia said. "Right now he's behind the eight ball with those other guys because they've had a few more starts than him. They've gotten into the routine. His first start back he said he felt good. He missed his spots a couple times which is a team that it's tough to miss your spots against. From my view I thought he still looked good."

WEDNESDAY'S LINEUPS

> Mets (16-16): 1. Juan Lagares CF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Curtis Granderson RF, 5. Chris Young LF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Anthony Recker C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Zack Wheeler RHP.

> Marlins (18-15): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 3B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.

Comments

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bob

Marlins are gonna have a good road trip. Stanton loves hitting in SoCal.

A Realist

Let's hope he's not the only one. We need more than him to win out there. We need good pitching and guys like Yelich, Hech, and Ozuna to step up and play the same way they do at home. No coincidence they are all young.

A Realist

They are going to need more than Stanton to get on a roll out there. Need Jones, Hech, Yelich, and Ozuna to step it up on the road, as well as the pitching (other than Fernandez).

Alex

Another excellent win. Why? Because this is exactly the kind of game the Fish used to LOSE, that's why. Like I said, it's early, but this team is beginning to have that "Team of Destiny" look. That 03 Marlins look, or that '69 Mets look. It's very tough to beat teams like that; they do not necessarily have the best talent, but they have good chemistry and they get on a roll, and they start catching the BREAKS. Do not discount the LUCK factor!

Ozuna looks at times like he can't EVER hit a breaking pitch. On yesterday's thread someone compared him to Yelich whose swing is so smooth, etc. But look at the numbers. Their BA's are not that far apart, but Ozuna has him beat in HRs and RBIs. If he finally learns to lay off bad breaking pitches he will be a very good hitter. The great thing about this team is, as I said a couple of days ago, that the youngsters Ozuna, Yelich, Dietrich & Hech DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY THIS TEAM. They are all at various stages of LEARNING how to hit and how to play at this level. With the great year Stanton is having, plus the contributions of McGehee, Salty and Jones, these kids can just play the game and polish their craft without a lot of pressure.

This Front Office deserves a lot of credit for their free agent signings. Now if only they can tighten up that pen. I'm tired of hearing from Flav how good this kid Drayton is doing; I want to see for myself! I worry about Cishek being over used, and I REALLY worry when Marmol, Dunn, and even Ramos come into a game these days. Dunn SEEMS to be back on track, but I still reserve judgement till that ERA is under 4, and know I'm worried about Ramos maybe being hurt. And of course when I even see Marmol just sitting in the bullpen I start sweating.

Alex

Somebody, I think it was Lou, also noticed Turner's lack of velocity. I remember him as a guy who could hit 94 on the gun when necessary last year. That last start he was topping out at 91 with his breaking pitch at 84 which is Chris Volstad territory. NOT GOOD! Hopefully he will look better Thursday night.

How about Tom Koehler, eh? Talk about maximizing your talent; he does not have a 97 MPH fastball but he spots his pitches really well and has been a very pleasant surprise this year.

Stan M

Thoughts from this game:
*the umpires are getting very fat again
*see if you folks would agree, but I swear that when the roof is closed, and those back windows as well, curve balls seem to have a larger break to them.
*Stanton continues to baffle me. Sixth inning, first two guys walk, and does he see if the guy can throw a strike? Heck no. Not only does he swing at the first pitch, but the darn thing was no where near a strike. Ok, how about the second pitch. Again he swings at another ball in the same place. That is not good baseball, I don't care how far he can hit a ball. Had he waited and taken, the count would have been 2-0 and who knows what would happen then. Never mind that he hit into a DP, he bailed a young pitcher, who was obviously shook up, out with those first two downright stupid swings.

A Realist

Stan, couldn't agree with you more. It's frustrating to watch him continue to make the same mistakes offensively and defensively. It's like he isn't learning. Yes, we won, but those mistakes will be magnified come August and September when the races get tight. He's got to start to use his head and stop going up there free swinging. I'm sure the coaches have gone over this time and time again with him. He's definitely not an intellectual.

How about Koehler? The pitbull! He goes out there with a belly of steam and puts the naysayers to sleep. Way to go Koehler! Happy for you.

richie

Great to win these past two games, but, 3-0 and 1-0??? Team can't depend on angels from heaven forever. The western road trip is huge. The must win at least 5 of the 11 games. Pray.

Stan M

While with the Mets, Tom Seaver once got more outs via strikeouts all by himself than the total of hits and walks he allowed combined. So I checked back at other pitchers up to that time. No Feller, no Walter Johnson. no Lefty Grove, no Dazzy Vance. Vida Blue did it once and Koufax 3 times and that's all I could find. Now with strikeouts so common, it happens much more often, but is still quite a feat. A pitcher must not only have a commanding strikeout rate, but he must have excellent control and not walk too many. Right now The Kid has 65Ks and has given up 30 hits and 12 walks. What surprised me is that Eovaldi has stuck out only 45, but has given up 39 hits and a miniscule 6 walks so he's right there. There are a few other starters doing it this year and they are the cream of the crop.

Alex

Wow, tough crowd! It's as if Stanton "isn't learning"? Ok, you are certainly entitled to your opinion! I'm not going to criticize guys any more on these threads if I think that someone says something wild. Everyone is entitled to their OPINION.

That said, I will give MY opinion. And hey, you can disagree with me all you want. I never played in the majors, so what do I know? Well, I do know THIS: All it takes is EYES and an open mind to see that Stanton has improved IMMENSELY every year since he got here. I also don't know how many times I have to keep pointing out that he's ONLY 24 YEARS OLD and not even NEAR his prime yet. AND I also know this: when you teach people something, it's very rare that they just pick it up right away and never again fall back in to their old bad habits. Instead it's usually a process where a guy takes two steps forward than takes a step back. And I also know this: one of these days Stanton will be GONE from here and all you guys who criticize him now will realize exactly what a huge hole his departure will leave on this team. Seriously. It always amazes me how people take greatness for granted. We should consider ourselves lucky to have been blessed to have this kid play here. He is going to be baseball's premier power hitter if he isn't already.

Alex

I still can't get over the post criticizing Stanton. I mean some people just will never be satisfied, I guess! If Stanton hits .300 they will be upset it's not .40. Never mind that the kid is leading the NL in HRs and RBIs. Never mind that he got the hit in the 9th inning and scored the game winning run! No! Lets rip the kid for what? Hitting into 2 DPs BEFORE THAT! Hilarious. The Marlins only had THREE HITS the entire game.

I may not be as old as Stan M, but I AM in my mid 50's. I have seen WILLIE MAYS hit into 2 DPs in a game. So did Hank Aaron. Mickey Mantle. Ernie Banks. Derek Jeter. Roberto Clemente. Hey, it happens. It's BASEBALL, not football. It's a game where failure 70% of the time means you're pretty good. When he finally leaves as a free agent or Loria trades him, I hope none of you complain about it. Some of you have done nothing but CRITICIZE Stanton since the day he got here.

Stan M

Alex, he might be 24 YO, but he's now a 5 year veteran. My criticism has nothing to do with hitting into 2 DPs. That happens, especially with players who hit the ball hard. My objection has to do with his judgment. A 23YO pitcher had been lights out for 5 innings. He walks the first 2 batters. One of the league's best hitters with RISP hits behind you. The pitcher is naturally rattled. If he walks you, too, the tying run is on 3rd with no outs. If he throws a couple of balls (which he did) you, if not walked, are sitting on a fast ball with a hitters count. All of this screams for Stanton to take until this kid shows he can throw a strike. I didn't say so in my criticism above, but I actually fault Redmond for not giving him (or anyone...ever) the take sign right then.
I didn't say anything about the first hit that he "almost" caught, but if Ozuna had been in RF, Koehler has a no hitter through 7 innings.
Yes, he's a fine asset to the team. But he still makes rookie mistakes.

Stan M

Flav, boy do I hope we are all wrong and you are right about Turner. If the guy could just be a .500 pitcher, this team could actually compete for the pennant. This FO has made several excellent moves and will certainly not stand still if a reliever is needed to win. Baseball is fun again.

Al-Kendall

As I mentioned before, Turner does not yet inspire confidence.
He needed to have made his prior start in the Minors, and perhaps come of the DL for the start today. Hopefully, Salty is right and he starts to be more effective today. He is due to pitch 3 of the games on the current road trip in CA. I am afraid he has not yet built up his arm strength and control, but he needs to quickly get his game back!

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