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62 posts from June 2011

June 30, 2011

June ends today. Will the losing?

    OAKLAND -- Win or lose this afternoon, the Marlins will close out their worst month in franchise history -- and one of the worst months in baseball history for any team.

    Lose to the A's at Oakland Coliseum and they'll finish June with a 4-24 record. Based on a .143 winning percentage, that would rank among the worst 19 months ever recorded -- and when I mean "ever," I mean all the way back to the 1800s.

    Since 1950, it would match the 1963 New York Mets (4-24), but outrank the 2003 Detroit Tigers (3-20, .130), 1972 Texas Rangers (3-23, .115), 1954 Philadelphia Athletics (3-26, .103), 1982 Minnesota Twins (3-26, .103) and 1988 Baltimore Orioles (1-22, .043).

    The title for worst month in baseball history belongs to the legendary Pittsburgh Allegheneys, who went 1-27 (.036).

    Even if the Marlins win today to "improve" to 5-23 for the month, that .821 losing percentage would  still rank among the 45 worst months in baseball history.


     A mathematician friend of mind crunched some numbers and determined that the odds of losing 14 consecutive one-run decisions, as the Marlins have done, would be about 1 in 1,250.

    As hard as this is to believe,  the Marlins are not that close to the record for consecutive losses in one-run games. That mark is held by the 1933 Boston Red Sox, who lost 20 consecutive one-run decisions, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.


     Tuesday's one-hitter by Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey jarred loose a memory. I saw Chuck Dobson of the A's one-hit the White Sox at Comiskey Park in 1970. And, just like Tuesday, the hit came in the first inning. My recollection has always been that Luis Aparacio had Chicago's lone hit. But when I went back and looked at the box score, I see that it was Gail Hopkins who produced the only hit of the game for the Sox.

     Emilio Bonifacio's leadoff single in the first was all that kept the Marlins from being no-hit.


   Sombrero   Someone needs to take a head measurement for Mike Stanton in order to be fitted for a "golden sombrero" for striking out four times in a game. Stanton has accomplished the feat twice on this road trip -- Friday in Seattle and last night here in Oakland.


June 29, 2011

Good news for J.J. -- No structural damage to shoulder

   OAKLAND -- Good news for Josh Johnson, who saw Dr. James Andrews in Alabama today. Tests showed no structural damage to Johnson's injured right shoulder, according to the pitcher's agent, Matt Sosnick.

   However, Johnson's return to the mound for the Marlins would appear to be delayed beyond the mid-July target date as Sosnick said the pitcher will be put on no-throw status for 10 days before resuming his program.

   Johnson is on the 60-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and had begun pitching off a bullpen mound in preparation for his return. But after completing a throwing session on Friday, he complained of discomfort in the shoulder and traveled to see Andrews.

    Most likely, it'll be August before Johnson returns to the mound for the Marlins.

June 28, 2011

U2 haunting the Marlins from South Florida to Oakland

   OAKLAND -- Wednesday's U2 concert at Sun Life Stadium is the reason why the Marlins had to move three home games to Seattle. Now, the mega rock outfit could be creating more havoc with the Marlins' plans.

Bono    A steady, day-long rain here has cast some doubt on whether tonight's game at the Oakland Coliseum will be played. Rain isn't the only issue, though. The outfield was recently re-sodded following a U2 concert here on June 7, and there are concerns about the playing surface due to the soggy conditions.

   "U2 is making our life harder," said backup Marlins infielder Wes Helms.

   Said catcher John Buck: "U2 hates us."

   Reliever Brian Sanches said he knows one way for U2 to make it up to the Marlins: have the band's frontman, Bono, offer backstage passes to all Marlins players whenever the group plays in any of their hometowns during the offseason.

   One other side note: Sun Life Stadium (Dolphins/Marlins) and the Oakland Coliseum (Raiders/A's) are the only remaining NFL/MLB dual facilities. 


   Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 4. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 5. Mike Stanton, rf; 6. Jose Lopez, 3b; 7. Logan Morrison, DH; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Dewayne Wise, cf. (PItching: Javier Vazquez)

   A's: 1. Jemile Weeks, 2b; 2. Cliff Pennington, ss; 3. Coco Crisp, cf; 4. Hideki Matsui, DH; 5. Conor Jackson, 1b; 6. Ryan Sweeney, lf; 7. Kurt Suzuki, c; 8. David DeJesus, rf; 9. Scott Sizemore, 3b. (Pitching: Gio Gonzalez)

   Umpires: HP -- Phil Cuzzi; 1B -- Bill Miller; 2B -- Chris Conroy; 3B -- Tom Hallion.

Josh Johnson to have shoulder examined by Andrews

  OAKLAND -- Josh Johnson will have his injured right shoulder examined on Wednesday by Dr. James Andrews.

   "The update is that J.J. says that shoulder does not feel 100 percent and is going to see Andrews tomorrow before proceeding further with the throwing program," said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations.

     In a text message, Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick said there is "nothing serious," but that Johnson was turning to Andrews for a second opinion.

  Sosnick said it was his understanding that Johnson was continuing to perform bullpen work as he works his way back from inflammation in his right shoulder, which landed him on the disabled list in mid-May.

  Johnson was eventually placed on the 60-day disabled list, and the Marlins were anticipating for him to come off the DL and pitch again shortly after the All-Star break in mid-July.

  The pitcher, who is in the second year of a four-year deal that pays him $39 million, made nine starts (3-1, 1.64) before going on the DL. He is eligible to come of the DL on July 16.

   Johnson threw off a bullpen mound in Jupiter on Friday.

   Meanwhile, reliever Clay Hensley (right shoulder sprain) threw his fourth bullpen today (45 pitches) and is scheduled to throw in a sim game on Thursday.

   "All good," Hensley wrote in a text message. "On track. Very pleased with pitches and the way the arm is responding."

June 27, 2011

Marlins lose wide right

   SEATTLE -- Not sure where this one ranks on the Marlins' list of headscratchers, but tonight's defeat was a dandy. Steve Cishek's wild pitch while trying to intentionally walk Carlos Peguero in the 10th enabled the deciding run to score in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners.

    Cishek Manager Jack McKeon said he's never seen it happen in his 60 years of managing. Catcher John Buck, who was behind the plate when Cishek's third pitch to Peguero sailed wide right, said that, with the way things have gone for the Marlins, it's hard to imagine any more ways to lose.

    "There can't be too many other ways (to lose), right?" Buck said. "We got that one crossed off the list, so hopefully that'll be it."

    Cishek said the pitch just "got away." Thing was, Buck reacted so quickly once he saw the pitch was tracking nowhere close to him that he pounced on the ball quickly after it caromed off the backstop and threw to Cishek in time to nail Dustin Ackley, who was racing in from third. But Buck short-hopped the throw and Cishek couldn't come up with it to apply the tag.

     Even stranger is this: after Ackley scored, Cishek ended up pitching to Peguero and struck him out  despite falling behind 3-0 with the wild pitch. Strange stuff. 

     It all added up to the 22nd loss of June, two more than the former franchise record. And there are three games left to play in the disaster of a month.

     So tell me, what's the wackiest, most inexplicable Marlins loss that you remember?

June 26, 2011

McKeon's All-Stars: Sanchez and Sanchez

    SEATTLE -- Jack McKeon put two Marlins on his All-Star ballot: Gaby Sanchez and Anibal Sanchez.

    Gaby's been the Marlins' best hitter and enjoyed an outstanding May but, as a first baseman, will have his work cut out trying to make the N.L. team. There are five first basemen with higher averages than his .300, five with more home runs than his 14, and four with a higher OPS than his .869, though he outranks Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard in that category.

     McKeon included Anibal on his ballot of three pitchers, along with Philadelphia's Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

     Anibal has made an immediate impression on McKeon, not only with how he performs on the mound, but with his work habits on days he's not pitching.

      "He's average big-league stuff but he's got great command," McKeoon said of Sanchez, who takes the mound tonight for the Marlins as they go for their first series win since sweeping the Giants in May. "I like his attitude. He's the hardest worker we've got out there."

      McKeon said when he showed up at Safeco Field at 10 a.m. the morning after the team flew in Thursday night, he saw Sanchez working out on the field. McKeon said that he pulled Sanchez aside and encouraged him to convince a few of his other teammates to get with the program.

       "I said, 'Do me a favor. There's a couple of other guys on this club. Start taking them with you."


       When Bobby Cox retired as Braves manager last year at the age of 69, the median age of an National League East manager declined somewhat. Now, with the 80-year-old McKeon back on board with the Marlins and 68-year-old Davey Johnson joining the Nationals, the NL East is suddenly a division for old-timers. That suits McKeon just fine.

        "I think they're bringing back guys with experience," McKeon said. "This (manure) of you've got to have a young guy to relate to the young guys, (fiddlesticks). They all get fired, so what's the difference?



June 25, 2011

Good news for Marlins: June only has 30 days

Patsy    SEATTLE -- The Marlins continued their rapid descent with last night's beating by the visiting Mariners, leaving them with a 2-21 record for the month of June. The good news for them is that, with only five games left on their June schedule, they can't quite match the N.L. record for awfulness in in a single month: 27 losses.

   One significant footnote to that mark: the three N.L. teams since 1900 that lost 27 in a calendar month also played considerably more games than the 28 the Marlins will end up playing this month. The 1908 Brooklyn Superbas went 6-27, the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals went 7-27, and the 1939 Philadelphia Phillies went 6-27. (The Superbas were managed, appropriately enough, by a guy named "Patsy" Donovan -- see photo).

    The Marlins could go 2-26 for a June winning percentage of .071 if they "L" out the rest of the way. That's significantly worse than, say, those '08 Superbas or '39 Phillies (.182 for each) or the '08 Cardinals (.206). The A.L. record for losses in one month belongs to the 1909 Washington Senators, who were defeated 29 times. But they also won five for a winning percentage of .147.

    Following last night's setback, Jack McKeon summed up part of the problem, and why the Marlins started out so well before hitting the wall:

     "Early in the season, you can jump on a lot of guys (pitchers)," McKeon said. "They're not sharp. I've always said, there's a big differene between April and May. and the pitchers start to get sharp about the first of June, quiet quite a few hitters. And the guys who are taking off and doing real good, as we know -- Mr. Hee Seop Choi -- and all those guy who hit 10 and 11 home runs in April and May, didn't hit anymore the rest of the year because the pitching gets better, and they kind of dominate the hitters."

     Yes, the Marlins had to deal with "King Felix" Hernandez at Safeco last night. But, still...their offensive "highlights" were three hit batsmen and the strikeout/wild pitch to John Buck that allowed the only run to score for the Marlins. Hanley Ramirez had one of the Marlins' two hits (Gaby Sanchez, the other).

      But who would have ever guessed that, with the end of June fast approaching, Emilio Bonifacio would have 17 multi-hit games to only 12 for Ramirez? And it's not like Bonifacio is leading the league in hitting, either.

Marlins bust on 21 as June swoon continues

  SEATTLE -- What a June for the Marlins, who lost for the 21st time this month here at Safeco Field earlier tonight. In case you were wondering, that's a new franchise record for losses in one month, and they still have five more games to go before they can close the book on it..

  "It's really unbelievable," said Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, who was nearly flawless for six innings before the Mariners broke through. "It's an amazing stretch we're going through right now. We've got to find a way to get out of this."

  They've been saying that for a few weeks now inside the increasingly somber Marlins clubhouse. The Marlins have now done a complete reversal, going from 10 games over .500 with a 30-20 record on May 28 to 10 games under .500 with their current 33-43 record. They are 2-21 in June.

   Not even the funkiness of this "home" series snapped the Marlins out of their funk. Mike Stanton never put wood on the ball, wearing the Golden Sombrero by striking out in each of his four at bats. On the flip side, John Buck reached base each of his first three trips to the plate despite never putting the ball in place. Twice he was hit by Felix Hernandez pitches and once he reached on a strikeout and wild pitch.

   The Marlins managed only two hits off Hernandez, who hit three batters.

    "You can't very well win too many games with two hits," said manager Jack McKeon. "We had more hit batsmen than we had hits."

June 23, 2011

Marlins head off to Seattle with a happier, focused Hanley Ramirez

Jack McKeon didn't win his first series in his return as Marlins manager.

But after three days, he may have already gotten his toughest assignment completed -- getting Hanley Ramirez to turn his attitude around and play with passion.

Two days after being benched for showing up late to a team meeting and getting chastised by Logan Morrison for it, the three-time All-Star shortstop and former batting champion played arguably his best game of the season Wednesday.

He went 2-for-5 with two, two-out RBI singles and two great plays with his glove. And even though a bad bounce produced the game-winning RBI single that scooted just past Ramirez's glove, there was a sense of victory in the Marlins clubhouse after the 10-inning 6-5 loss to the Angels.

And it's all because Ramirez, the franchise player, is displaying the attitude the team has been looking for.

"I'm very, very happy with my three days here," McKeon said. "I know we're 1-2. But I think we're on the right path. We're going to cause a little havoc the rest of the way. We've got two or three hitting now. Now, we've got to try to get a couple more just to put the ball in play.

"If you were in the dugout tonight even when we got down 5-4, the guys were figuring out we're going to tie this thing. We're going to win this thing.

McKeon said Ramirez was a big part of that.

"We probably saw his best game of the year, maybe the last couple years," he said. "Hanley was fired up. All excited to play, happy, coming over talking to me about different things. Just a smile on his face. It's the new confidence he has. And he's happy. Maybe he likes hitting fourth, he certainly has been delivering in that situation. Maybe we found the right spot for him."

A couple of his teammates said they were happy to see Ramirez show some fight.

"He played real well," said Burke Badenhop, who suffered the loss. "That catch on the tarp there was huge. You can tell when he's really locked in and he good ABs today. That was good to see. He was pretty pumped like we need him to be."

Said Brian Sanches: "It's definitely good for our team. It's no secret we need him to win. We all know he's capable of doing it. Hopefully this gets it rolling."

Ramirez said he wants to stay positive and keep the momentum going now as the team heads off for Seattle, the first of nine road games against the AL West.

"We're playing good," he said. "It's hard when you're not playing good and your team is losing. Everyday it's hard to go out there and be happy. But when your playing the right way, you got good things going it's a lot of smiles -- not just me. All those guys."

June 22, 2011

JJ has ultrasound done on knee, skips Wednesday's bullpen, but Marlins say it shouldn't slow his return from DL

Josh Johnson, scheduled to throw his third bullpen session in his return from shoulder inflammation and the disabled list on Wednesday, only participated in three quarters of his normal throwing program according to pitching coach Randy St. Claire.

Josh Johnson Johnson, who hadn't been with the team since Sunday in Tampa, had an ultrasound procedure performed on his right knee on Tuesday. The Marlins said he was cleared to return to his normal mound progression.

"His knee is still a little sore, but it's not bad," St. Claire said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. And if he feels real good we'll determine if he throws his [bullpen] or not. We'll work our way back from there."

St. Claire said the strength in Johnson's arm is returning and that he looked good during his bullpen session on Sunday.

"His last side he threw 35 pitches, fastball, changeup. Extension was real good. His fastball had life and zip to it through the zone and everything. It was real good," St. Claire said.

McKeon said he spoke to Johnson Wednesday and said the ace is still on target to make his return after the All-Star Break, either in the first series against the Cubs or the next against the game against the Mets July 18.