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Marlins TV Ratings Up for Mike Stanton Debut; Fredi Gonzalez Explains Late-Inning Strategy


    Considering what the Marlins and Mike Stanton were up against last night for his major league debut, they fared very well in the ratings. Ratings for last night's Marlins game were up 28 percent over the May average, according to Amy Pempel, director of media relations for Fox Sports Florida, with 59,000 households in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market tuned into the game.

    That's strong considering it was a Tuesday broadcast and the Marlins were facing keen competition on the sports airwaves from Game 3 of the NBA finals between the Lakers and Celtics and pitcher Stephen Strasburg's sensational big-league debut on ESPN.

    "I'm sure there was interest in (Stanton), absolutely," Pempel said.

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    Twice in the past three days the Marlins elected not to intentionally walk a batter with first base open in a crucial spot late in the game and it's come back to haunt them.

    On Sunday, with one out in the seventh, runners at second and third, and the Marlins holding a 6-3 lead over the Mets, manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to have Tim Wood pitch to Jeff Francoeur with Alex Cora and the pitcher due up next. Francoeur, who has been swinging a hot bat, homered to tie the game, which the Mets ended up winning.

    On Tuesday, with two outs in the eighth, runners at second and third, and the Marlins clinging to an 8-7 lead over the Phillies, Gonzalez allowed Taylor Tankersley to pitch to Ben Francisco with a left-handed batter, Raul Ibanez, on deck. Tankersley had retired all seven left-handed batters he had faced to that point but was struggling against right-handers. Francisco singled, scoring the tying and go-ahead runs in a game the Phillies ended up winning, 10-8.

  Asked about it afterward, Gonzalez said: "It's a situation as a manager where you've got Ibanez on deck, but you also have (Jayson) Werth sitting in the dugout."

   In other words, Gonzalez was concerned that the Phillies - had Francisco been walked -- sent up the right-handed hitting Werth to pinch-hit for Ibanez in that situation. Keep in mind that Gonzalez had only two relievers, both right-handers, left in the bullpenl: closer Leo Nunez, whom he was saving for the ninth inning, and Jay Buente, who was likely being kept in reserve if the game went into extra innings. Nunez has been asked to get more than three outs just once before this season -- his first outing on April 7 against the Mets -- and that didn't turn out so well. Nunez entered with the bases loaded in the eighth of a 2-run ballgame. He walked in one run and balked in another. He also walked two more batters in the ninth of a game the Marlins ended up winning in the 10th.

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