April 2012

Marlins on the run at Philly

PHILADELPHIA — As advertised, the Marlins have the ability to be a band on the run.

Speed was a big difference in Monday’s 6-2 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio executed a double-steal in the first inning, which set up Hanley Ramirez’s RBI groundout to second, putting the team on the board. In the sixth inning, Bonifacio executed a terrific bunt single and sprinted to third on Cole Hamels’ two-base throwing error.

Bonifacio scored on Gaby Sanchez’s RBI double.

“We’re going to run,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We’re going to use the pieces that we have. All of a sudden, the hitter is going to see more fastballs. Catchers have got to be aware. Coaches got to be aware. It’s nice when you can run a little bit. That makes a lot of people heads up.”

Sanchez drove in two runs on the day, hitting in the cleanup spot because Giancarlo Stanton was scratched with pain in his left knee.

Stanton is seeing a doctor in Philadelphia, but he’s expected to be fine in a few days.

With Reyes and Bonifacio, the Marlins have the ability to make things happen with their legs.

“That’s what we know we have right there,” Gaby Sanchez said. “It’s nothing that is going to surprise people. They know what we have with our speed. You look at Hanley, too, who can run. Stanton, too, can run. There are a lot of guys who can move around and do a lot of different things. It definitely puts pressure on the pitcher to either release the ball quickly. Speed up. Leave a ball up. So there are a lot of mistakes they can make because we have that speed factor.”

Joe Frisaro

Marlins-Phillies lineups for Monday

PHILADELPHIA — For the third time in five days, the Marlins are celebrating a home opener. This time, it is in Philadelphia.

For their afternoon game with the Phillies, Anibal Sanchez will make his season debut. Philadelphia counters with Cole Hamels.

Last Wednesday, Miami opened at Marlins Park, and on Thursday, the team opened the Reds season at Great American Ball Park.

About 40 minutes prior to the first pitch, Giancarlo Stanton was scratched due to left knee pain. Stanton missed time in Spring Training with a sore left knee. He is day to day.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) G. Sanchez, 1B

5) A. Kearns, RF

6) Coghlan, LF

7) Infante, 2B

8) Buck, C

9) A. Sanchez, P

PHILLIES

1) Pierre, LF

2) Polanco, 3B

3) Rollins, SS

4) Pence, RF

5) Victorino, CF

6) Mayberry, 1B

7) Ruiz, C

8) Galvis, 2B

9) Hamels, P

Joe Frisaro

Marlins traveling in style

CINCINNATI — Say this about the Marlins, they are making a fashion statement.

On getaway day on Sunday afternoon, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Johnson, Randy Choate and Ricky Nolasco dressed out in style. A bit over the top, but certainly in style.

The four shopped at House of Adam in Cincinnati, and boarded the team flight to Philadelphia wearing some lively suits, ties, hats and shoes.

Giancarlo Stanton, Randy Choate, Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson

Cycle remains elusive for Marlins

CINCINNATI — The Marlins have had four no-hitters, but never experienced a player completing the cycle.

Omar Infante gave it a shot on Saturday night, as he went 3-for-5, and fell a single shy of making team history.  He had a chance in the ninth inning, but his bid fell short when he lifted a routine fly to center field.

Infante is the fourth player in franchise history to need a single for the cycle. In 2007, Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham each had a double, triple and home run, but they lacked the elusive single.

Gary Sheffield in 1994 also missed out by a single.

“He didn’t do the easy thing, he did the tough thing,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said of Infante. “It was nice, especially the way he did it, in big situations. To me, that’s what counts.”

The lone player on the Marlins with a big league cycle is Jose Reyes, who did it while with the Mets in 2006.

Asked to predict which player on his team is most likely to pick up the cycle, Guillen said: “Reyes, easily.”

Joe Frisaro

Opening Night drew big TV audiences

CINCINNATI — A big splash was made over the grand opening of Marlins Park, and a large television audience tuned in on Wednesday night.

The Marlins-Cardinals game registered a 5.4 rating in Miami, the highest rating ever on record for a regular sesaon game on ESPN in Miami.

The Cardinals claimed a 4-1 win, and in St. Louis, the game attracted a 15.9 mark, the highest figure in any market for an Opening Night telecast on ESPN or ESPN2 in the past five years.

Nationally, the Marlins-Cards drew a 1.8 overnight rating, which was even with last year’s Opening Night game between the Dodgers and Giants on ESPN.

Now rebranded in their new ballpark, the Marlins are hopeful of gaining more national interest and telecasts.

MLB tends to accommodate teams moving into new ballparks by giving their debuts national exposure. A few years ago, Washington’s opener at Nationals Park was also nationally televised.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins lineup for Saturday

CINCINNATI — The Marlins are going with their season opening lineup on Saturday at Cincinnati.

The lone change, of course, is Ricky Nolasco will be pitching. The Reds counter with Mat Latos.

On Thursday, left fielder Logan Morrison was given the day off to allow an extra day to rest his right knee.

MARLINS

1) Reyes,SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Morrison, LF

6) Sanchez, 1B

7) Infante, 2B

8) Buck, C

9) Nolasco, P

Joe Frisaro

Reds park has been big headache for Marlins

CINCINNATI — Great American Ball Park has not be so great for the Marlins.

The home of the Reds, which opened in 2003, has been especially unkind to the Marlins.

Great American Ball Park

After losing 4-0 on Thursday afternoon, the Marlins fell to 5-14 in their last 19 games at Great American Ball Park.

While it’s a hitters’ park, Miami is batting .241 and averaging 3.83 runs in their last 18 games (2007-today) at Cincinnati.

What’s really hurt the Marlins at Great American Ball Park is their pitching.

Since 2007, the Marlins have a collective 5.83 ERA and are 4-14 mark. Cincinnati is hitting .281 facing Marlins pitching in that span.

On a couple of occasions, the Marlins held leads in the late innings, only to watch them disappear. Twice the team has blown saves in the difficult stretch.

Joe Frisaro  

Two games doesn’t tell the story, does it?

CINCINNATI — First off, let’s show some perspective — it’s just two games.

Quite simply, nothing definitive can be drawn from two games.

With that out of the way, let’s look at what’s happened in the first two Marlins games. The club simply hasn’t hit.

The offense, which has the makings to be the best in the National League, has mustered only seven hits and one run total. They were hitless through six innings on Opening Night by Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals.

And Thursday, Johnny Cueto kept the team in check, limiting them to three hits in seven innings.

Granted, some balls in the first two games were hit hard, and the team had nothing to show for it. Giancarlo Stanton, of course, blasted two long drives on Opening Night that were gobbled up in center field by Jon Jay. Perhaps in a more hitter-friendly facility, Stanton would have had at least one homer.

It didn’t happen at Marlins Park, which seems like it will play gigantic with the roof open and the ocean breeze blowing in from left.

Logan Morrison, 1-for-3 in the opener, lined hard to right field for an out. Hanley Ramirez connected on what, off the bat, looked like at least extra bases. Again, the big home park didn’t reward the hitter, and it was another loud out.

Gaby Sanchez lined out to second base in the opener.

So we can accurately say the Marlins haven’t caught any breaks in the first two games.

Check that off our list.

What also is obvious is the players are simply trying too hard. Manager Ozzie Guillen said so after Thursday’s loss.

The lack of patience also is clear. Instead of grinding out at-bats, and wearing down pitchers — like the Yankees and Cardinals do — Miami players were clearly over-eager in their approaches and swinging for the fences instead of trying to start things off.

Part of being more high profile as a franchise is dealing with big crowds, and distractions. To teams like the Yankees and Cardinals, that’s nothing new.

For many of the Marlins, it is.

Now, you can see what closer Heath Bell repeatedly talked about leading up to the Opening Night. Bell says players can use adrenaline for them or against them. They have to channel their emotions the right way.

It’s just two games, and nothing right now — good or bad — should be over analyzed too much.

That is, unless the negative trend continues.

Joe Frisaro

 

Marlins lineup for Thursday

After opening at home on Wednesday, the Marlins had a quick turnaround as they play the Reds this afternoon in Cincinnati.

Mark Buehrle will make his Miami debut. Not in the starting lineup is left fielder Logan Morrison. A couple of days ago, Morrison was told he likely wouldn’t play in this game, due to the quick turnaround.

Morrison missed most of Spring Training with right knee inflammation.

MARLINS

1) Reyes, SS

2) Bonifacio, CF

3) Ramirez, 3B

4) Stanton, RF

5) Sanchez, 1B

6) Coghlan, LF

7) Infante, 2B

8) Buck, C

9) Buehrle, P

Joe Frisaro

 

It will take time to get JJ to All-Star form

MIAMI – Getting their ace back is a relief. But getting Josh Johnson back to his All-Star form is going to take some time.

The Marlins ace is the first to admit that throwing quality pitches consistently is a work in progress.

Denis Bancroft/Miami Marlins

In his own words, Opening Night on Wednesday was a battle. He’d execute some good pitches, and then a bad one, and the Cardinals made him pay.

The defending World Series champion Cardinals grinded out 10 hits off Johnson, who allowed three runs in Miami’s 4-1 loss in the first regular season game ever at Marlins Park.

The tone was set early when David Freese delivered a two-run single in the first inning on a slider that didn’t break the way Johnson wanted.

Considering Johnson hadn’t pitched since last May 16 due to right shoulder inflammation, it’s understandable that he isn’t completely sharp yet.

The good news is he is completely healthy. The shoulder feels strong. What is still lagging is crispness.

“Yeah, definitely,” Johnson said. “Like I’ve been saying, the consistency is not there yet. It’s close. I see it in spurts, and it goes away.”

The 10 hits allowed matched a career high for Johnson, who also surrendered that many in 2010 against the Reds.

It’s common for players, especially pitchers, to need some time to return to the top of their game after missing extended periods of time.

As long as Johnson stays healthy, the quality of his pitches should improve the more that he throws. He felt he was just about there after striking out nine against the Nationals in his final Spring Training outing.

“I was real excited after my last Spring Training start,” he said. “It was there for three or four innings. Usually you can build off that, and go four, five, then six, seven and then the whole game.”

Due to the pregame festivities, the first pitch on Wednesday was moved from 7:05 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Johnson said he was aware of that, but there was still some uncertainty over when he would take the mound.

“Chaos,” Johnson called the commotion before the game. “It seemed like the whole time we didn’t know what was going on in the bullpen. It seemed like we were stopping and starting, waiting.” At one point, Johnson had stopped throwing, thinking the game was about to begin. After standing around a few minutes, he resumed throwing.

After the Star Spangled Banner was completed, Johnson said he was able to get settled.

“Once the game started, it calmed down pretty quickly,” the right-hander said.

Johnson’s first pitch of the night was at 7:15. It was a 93 mph fastball that was a called strike to Rafael Furcal.

Catcher John Buck delivered the first pitch ball to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to honor the grand opening of Marlins Park.

Joe Frisaro

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