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Series at Turner Field was K-razy

Power arms were on display in the Marlins’ wild series against the Braves at Turner Field.

If you are fan of strikeouts, this series was for you. The Miami and Atlanta staffs racked up 88 strikeouts over the three games, or an average of 29.333 per game, with one of them decided in 10 innings.

The Marlins hitters struck out 41 times, to 37 for Atlanta.

The Braves ended up taking two of three in a series that was decided by one big hit in all three games.

As discouraging as it was for the Marlins to lose the series, there was plenty of encouragment in how the starters performed.

Tom Koehler set the tone on Monday night, giving up two runs in 6 1/3 innings. On Tuesday, Jose Fernandez had maybe the best pitching performance of any starter in the big leagues this year. The 21-year-old struck out 14 and allowed three hits with no walks in eight innings. And on Thursday afternoon, Nathan Eovaldi fanned seven in six innings, giving up one unearned run.

For the series, the Miami starters posted an 0.89 ERA (2 ER in 20 1/3 IP). The starters allowed just 14 hits, walked two and hit one batter.

The power arms certainly put on a show. Round two will be next week at Marlins Park. But first, the Marlins open a three-game series against the Mets at Citi Field beginning on Friday.

Joe Frisaro

Capps get call up from New Orleans

The Marlins have added a fresh arm to their heavily-used bullpen.

Carter Capps was recalled on Wednesday to fill the roster spot of Arquimedes Caminero, who was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Atlanta.

Capps was dominant at New orleans, posting a 1.64 ERA. In 11 innings, he struck out 17 and walked 6. The right-hander also allowed just eight hits.

Acquired from the Mariners in December for Logan Morrison, Capps was in big league camp with Miami. However, he was working on some delivery issues, and the club felt it was best for him to open the year at New Orleans.

Capps’ numbers in the spring where five walks, with eight strikeouts in 10 innings, to go along with a 3.60 ERA.

The Marlins considered bringing Capps up after Jacob Turner was placed on the disabled list on April 9, but instead went with Caminero.

With the Mariners, Capps had 71 games of big league experience, posting a 5.04 ERA in 84 innings.

Joe Frisaro

Jose looks to stop road slide

At 0-7, the Marlins are the only team in the big leagues without a road win.

In hopes of ending the slide, Miami sends its ace to the mound. Jose Fernandez will make his fifth start of the season, and he is coming off a no-decision and a loss in his previous two outings.

At home, Fernandez has been brilliant, posting a 2-0 mark with an 0.46 ERA.

In his lone road start, he lost at Philadelphia, giving up a career-high six earned runs in four-plus innings.

The road has not yet been kind to Fernandez, the 2013 N.L. Rookie of the Year. He’s 3-7 with a 4.00 ERA in his career away from Marlins Park, where he is 11-0 with a 1.07 ERA.

A year ago, in his only appearance at Atlanta, he came out on the losing end, giving up two runs in six innings with eight strikeouts.

Fernandez’s memorable game against the Braves came on Sept. 11 in Miami, when he beat the Braves, allowing one run in seven innings.

That game is remembered for the way he admired his home run, and the dust-up that followed at home plate. There was some jawing going on during the game. It will be interesting to see how emotions factor into the game.

Miami is coming off a rough 4-2 loss in 10 innings on Monday in a game it missed numerous opportunities.

Against Atlanta lefty Alex Wood, who has impressed with his 1.67 ERA. Miami has stacked up with seven right-handed hitters.

Christian Yelich and Garrett Jones are the only left-handed bats in the lineup. Yelich is riding a career-high 15-game hitting streak.


1) Yelich LF
2) Ozuna CF
3) Stanton RF
4) McGehee 3B
5) Saltalamacchia C
6) Jones 1B
7) Hechavarria SS
8) Solano 2B
9) Fernandez P

Joe Frisaro

Stanton keeps coming up clutch

MIAMI — All the opposing scouting reports are saying the same thing: Don’t let the big guy beat us.

Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez celebrate walk-off.

Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez celebrate walk-off.

The Mariners were really trying not to be in that situation, but couldn’t avoid it. Twice they intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton. The trouble was, he had three other at-bats. In those, he ripped an RBI single, lined a second single that was nearly snared at first. And then in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded and no-outs, they had no choice but to pitch to Stanton.

The Marlins slugger made them pay with a walk-off grand slam, giving Miami an 8-4 win at Marlns Park.

Stanton drove in five runs, and boosted his MLB lead to 26. And he is making a strong case to be the NL’s Player of the Month.

The Marlins are 7-10 on the season. In their seven wins, Stanton has the game-winning RBI in six of them. Marcell Ozuna has the other.

The franchise record for game-winning RBIs in a season is 21, set by Gary Sheffield in 1996. Miguel Cabrera (2005) and Jorge Cantu (2009) are second at 19.

At this pace, Stanton should seriously challenge. But it will be interesting to see how team’s approach the 24-year-old slugger from this point forward.

Entering Friday night, Stanton had been intentionally walked just once. Seattle did it twice, and likely would have done so again in the ninth, had Ozuna’s sacrifice bunt been clean.

If that occurred, and Miami had runners on second and third with one out, Stanton would have been walked. It would have then been up to Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee to close the deal.

Manager Mike Redmond has been going with the left-handed hitting Jones against right-handed starters, and McGehee there against lefties.

Against a lefty, Redmond has wanted a right-handed hitter behind Stanton. He may consider a similar strategy for clubs with multiple lefty relievers, like Seattle.

An option to bat cleanup is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, who blasted a long home run on Friday.

Saltalamacchia behind Stanton gives a threat to at least get a single or sacrifice fly.

Jones could slide to fifth or six. Fifth could be more likely, especially if left-handed hitting Derek Dietrich is batting seventh.

An order of Christian Yelich, Ozuna, Stanton, Salty, Jones, McGehee, Dietrich and Adeiny Hechavarria certainly balances righty and lefty hitters.

Joe Frisaro

Jose-Cano get together pregame

MIAMI — A couple of superstars caught up with each other pregame Friday.

Jose Fernandez and Robinson Cano pregame.

Jose Fernandez and Robinson Cano pregame.

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was mingling with some fans near the dugout, and Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano swung on by between rounds of batting practice to sign a few autographs.

Cano and Fernandez got together, exchanged a few words, and even posed for pictures.

Joe Frisaro

Yelich riding 11-game hitting streak

MIAMI — At every level Christian Yelich has hit. So the fact he is riding an 11-game hitting streak isn’t that surprising.

The 22-year-old Marlins outfielder has been highly touted since he was Miami’s first-round pick in 2010. He gained some big league seasoning in 2013, and now in his sophomore season, he is finding his stride.

Speaking to a National League scout the other day, he said he believes within five years Yelich and Washington’s Anthony Rendon will compete for a batting title. Who knows, it may come quicker than that.

It is interesting to compare the two.

Consider this, entering Friday night, Yelich and Rendon are each batting .317.

Yelich, thus far, has been more of a table setter. The Marlins outfielder has a .388 on-base percentage, plus two doubles, a triple, 11 runs scored and five RBIs.

Rendon, 23, has shown a little more power, with two homers, 12 RBIs, and the Nationals infielder has 10 runs scored.

Both are certainly rising talents in the National League East.

Also to watch for on Friday night, and over the rest of the homestand.

Giancarlo Stanton has 122 career home runs, which ties him with Gary Sheffield on the Marlins’ all-time list. Stanton’s next homer moves him into sole possession of sixth place.

All-time HR leaders

1) Dan Uggla 154
2) Hanley Ramirez 148
3) Mike Lowell 143
4) Miguel Cabrera 138
5) Derrek Lee 129
6) Giancarlo Stanton/Gary Sheffield 122

Joe Frisaro

Slowey to rotation, Hand to bullpen

MIAMI — The Marlins are making a rotation change without making a roster move.

Kevin Slowey will start on Sunday against the Mariners at Marlins Park, and Brad Hand will return to the bullpen.

Hand had made two starts in place of Jacob Turner, who is on the DL with a right shoulder sprain.

Chances are, Slowey will be making just one start. But that could change.

The Marlins rotation next week at Atlanta will be: Tom Koehler (Monday), Jose Fernandez (Tuesday) and Nathan Eovaldi (Wednesday).

Because of off days, Miami is considering going with a four-man rotation, with the four staying remaining on a five-day cycle. They wouldn’t need a fifth starter until early May, either over the weekend against the Dodgers or the Mets.

Turner, meanwhile, threw off flat ground again on Wednesday. and he is expected to throw off the mound on Friday. Before Turner is cleared to come off the DL, he will make at least one rehab assignment start.

Rafael Furcal (left hamstring strain) continues his rehab assignment at Class A Jupiter. He will be given Thursday off, play Friday and Saturday and be off again on Sunday. There is a chance he will go to Double-A Jacksonville next week.

Joe Frisaro

Salty, Koehler generate spark in win

MIAMI — Not that he didn’t have it already, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s stock in the clubhouse really skyrocketed on Tuesday night.

By simply standing up for his pitcher and getting in Ian Desmond’s face was a unifying moment for a team still bonding together.

The incident came in the fourth inning of the Marlins’ 11-2 win over the Nationals.

Desmond took exception to an inside pitch by Tom Koehler. Already in the inning, Koehler brushed back Jayson Werth, who drew a walk.

Benches cleared and there were heated exchanges, but the incident calmed rather quickly.

What the Marlins are taking from it, is they will pull together in tough times. Saltalamacchia took the kind of leadership the organization banked on when they signed him as a free agent.

“Salty had Tommy’s back out there,” outfielder Christian Yelich said. “I guess Ian was unhappy with whatever had taken place. Inside fastball. Didn’t like it. He had something to say. I don’t know exactly what he said or what Salty said. I think it was a little overblown. I don’t think the benches really needed to clear right there.”

Yelich added that during a rough stretch, the team is staying together.

“That’s just showing that we’ve got each other’s backs in here,” Yelich said. “That’s what we kind of take from it. Even though we got a little beaten up this past week, we are still going to stick together, and we’re in this for the long haul.”

Assessing the game, Giancarlo Stanton provided the big boost with his three-run homer in the first inning, and his five RBIs on the night.

But credit Koehler and Saltalamacchia for igniting a bit of much needed fire for a team desperate for a spark.

“You always want your catcher to have your back,” Koehler said. “We’re still building relationships here. For him to step up like that and tell them, ‘Listen, don’t talk to my pitcher that way,’ it definitely means a lot. It’s something that hopefully can build a little momentum and bring the team together.”

In the heat of the moment, things happen. All sides did what they had to.

Koehler is trying to pitch his game, and be aggressive, and use all sides of the plate. Desmond is understandably upset at having fastballs near his head. And Saltalamacchia had the perfect tone and showed his teammates he is there for them.

The reality, from the Marlins’ standpoint, is their pitching wasn’t doing enough during the eight game losing streak. The Nationals had taken it to Miami at Washington last week and on Monday night in the series opener. Their hitters were way too comfortable in the box.

Koehler sent a message that he would pitch inside.

“We were trying to pitch our game,” Saltalamacchia said. “Koehler was on tonight. He was throwing real well. We’ve got to mix our pitches. Last few nights we were missing over the middle of the plate. [Tuesday], we had to really concentrate on getting on both sides of the plate.

“I just said, ‘Hey, man, we weren’t trying to hit you, relax.’ “

Saltalamacchia notes the Marlins aren’t looking to become some buzz teams inside club. They need to make pitches to all sides of the plate.

“I’m not going to say we need to establish in,” the catcher said. “I think we need to make our pitches. We’ve made some bad pitches over the last few games where we left pitches over the middle of the plate. We were trying to go away, leaving it over the middle. Try to go in, leaving it over the middle. I’m not going to say we’re going to go in on everybody, but we’ve got to hit both sides of the plate, and we’ve got to continue to pitch.”


* It’s clear that the Marlins are using spacious Marlins Park to their advantage. Even though it was a blowout win on Tuesday, several deep fly balls by the Nationals were caught. Last week, on the road, a couple of the same shots could have been for extra bases or home runs.

For the pitchers, it’s going to be important to execute better, especially on the road. Because it is clear teams are being allowed to hit the ball as far as they can to center, because it often will be a loud out.

* Nothing is official, but it appears the Marlins will start Kevin Slowey on Sunday against the Mariners, and Brad Hand will pitch out of the bullpen. It doesn’t look like the team will make a roster move to add a starter. But it appears clear Hand will go back to the ‘pen after making two rough starts.

* Jacob Turner (right shoulder sprain) will throw off flat ground again Wednesday. Turner throw pain-free from 60 feet yesterday. He could throw off the mound as early as this weekend. Turner will make at least one rehab assignment start before he is reinstated.

* With a couple of days off in the upcoming week, the Marlins could go with four starters until their early May series against the Mets in Miami. Turner could be ready by then.

* The Andrew Heaney watch is on. The lefty was impressive yet again on Tuesday night in a win for Double-A Jacksonville. Heaney is pretty close to being ready, but don’t look for him to join the rotation until at least early June. They won’t rush him, saving his service time clock while also getting him more polished. The objective is to make sure he is fully ready and not be a candidate to get sent down.

* Tom Koehler has continued in three starts what he started in Spring Training. Koehler has impressed the organization and scouts from other clubs for a while. They’ve noted he is vastly underrated. Technically, Koehler is Miami’s No. 5 starter. The reality of how he is throwing, he pretty much is their No. 3.

* Carter Capps has been doing exactly what the Marlins wanted when they started him off at Triple-A New Orleans. The hard-throwing right-hander has been refining his delivery. Rather than rush him after a few good Triple-A outings, they want him to continue what he is doing. But if a reliever option is needed, Capps appears next in line to be brought up.

Joe Frisaro

Pitching woes throughout losing streak

MIAMI — When you are built around pitching, and it let’s down, this what happens.

This is the anatomy of an eight-game losing streak.

The Marlins have an upgraded offense, but not to the point of out-slugging teams. The foundation is still a promising young collection of arms. Both in the rotation and the bullpen. Few teams feature as many pitchers who throw 95-plus mph.

Right now, it doesn’t matter how hard the Marlins are throwing, the opposition is not missing anything.

Over the eight games, Miami’s overall ERA is 6.12, allowing 84 hits (including 10 home runs). Opponents are hitting at a blistering .304 clip. The bright spot, if there is one, is the pitchers have racked up 67 strikeouts over those 67 2/3 innings.

As starters, it hasn’t been very pretty. They are 0-5 with a 5.88 ERA. They’ve been knocked around, reflected by the opponents .326 batting average against them in the losing stretch. The starters have surrendered five home runs and 56 hits in 41 1/3 innings.

Because the starters haven’t gone deep very often, the bullpen has been overused. They are 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA, allowing 28 hits in 26 1/3 innings. The opposition is batting .269 against them.

At issue isn’t necessarily the raw stuff of each pitcher. Pitch selection has been a problem, dating back to Alexi Amarista belting a pinch-hit, three-run homer off Nathan Eovaldi on April 6, which started the losing streak.

The homer came with two out and two on in the seventh inning. Eovaldi was still throwing 97 mph in the inning, but with the count full, he threw a slider, and Amarista turned on it, sending it into the seats in right field, giving the Padres the lead for good.

On the road trip, Dan Jennings allowed a two-out, walk-off homer to Jimmy Rollins on a slider, in a loss on Saturday at Philadelphia. And on Sunday, in the series finale, Mike Dunn’s slider was pulled for a game-winning homer by Chase Utley in the eighth inning.

Three times during the six-game road trip the Marlins gave up a homer in the eighth, with two of them being grand slams at Washington. And Rollins’ homer off Jennings came in the 10th inning.

Joe Frisaro

Furcal starting up rehab assignment

MIAMI — As the Marlins take on the Nationals at Marlins Park on Monday night, Rafael Furcal will begin his rehab assignment at Class A Jupiter.

Furcal (left hamstring) is expected to play five innings at Jupiter, and be back in action on Tuesday.

“The plan is for him to hopefully play every day,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Hopefully, he continues to feel good. He will be there all week.”

There is a chance next week that Furcal will play for Double-A Jacksonville. In all, the team anticipates him using all 21 days of his assignment. If that is the case, the earliest he would join the team is May 6 against the Mets at Marlins Park.

“The plan for him is to use all 21 days,” Redmond said.

Marcell Ozuna fouled a ball off the top of his left foot on Sunday at Philadelphia, but he stayed in the game. On the plane ride back to Miami, however, he was on crutches.

Ozuna got a day off on Monday, but he is feeling better, and he took part in pregame activities. He could be a pinch-hit option.

“He fouled that ball off his foot. He ended up being on crutches after the game,” Redmond said. “He will get a day off, and we’ll see if he is available to pinch-hit. He is out there, and he’s going to go through baseball activities, and we’ll see how he feels and if he is available for the game tonight. I anticipate him to be ok for a pinch-hit, but we’ll see.”

Ed Lucas (broken left hand) was cleared to do baseball activities on Monday.

“We’ll just kind of monitor him on how that hand is feeling,” Redmond said. “We’ll see how much activity he can do day-to-day.”

Jacob Turner (right shoulder) is going to start playing catch on Tuesday.

“He’s feeling much better than he has,” Redmond said.

Joe Frisaro


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