Results tagged ‘ Mets ’

Even a bit off, Nolasco wins

Call it a sign of maturity, or perhaps Ricky Nolasco is just that good.

Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Encouraging for Nolasco and the Marlins on Sunday was the right-hander was able to piece together a quality start when he didn’t have his quality stuff.

ricky-nolasco.jpgThe box score from the Marlins’ 10-8 victory over the Mets will read that Nolasco gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings. He allowed six hits, struck out three and walked two.

Overall, not bad numbers. They were good enough for Nolasco to improve to 4-2 while lowering his ERA to 3.59.

What the linescore didn’t reveal was his fastball velocity was down a little bit. He was at 88-89 mph for most of the game, occasionally reaching 91. Once he topped at 92 mph.

“I felt terrible,” Nolasco said.

Over the course of 30-plus starts in a season, pitchers will have good and bad days. Nolasco’s velocity, on a good day, is between 92-94 mph. There is nothing physically wrong with Nolasco. It was his eighth start, in a day game, and he wasn’t at his sharpest. That was clear by the fact he threw 95 pitches with 54 for strikes.

In his previous start — at Chicago on May 11 — he threw 95 pitches with 69 strikes in seven innings.

“This is one of those games where I pretty much had to go out there and battle,” Nolasco said. “What I’m proud of myself is I battled. The offense did a great job.

“I’m not very happy with how I threw the ball. That’s going to happen. I move on to my next start.”

Another positive from Sunday’s win is it was another outing where the Marlins starting pitcher worked deep into the game. In the month of May, only once has a Florida starter given up more than four runs in an outing.

The rotation’s record in May is 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA.


Dontrelle Willis 68

A.J. Burnett, 49

Brad Penny 48

Ricky Nolasco 44

Ryan Dempster 42

Josh Beckett 41

Josh Johnson 37

Pat Rapp 37

— Joe Frisaro

Showing faith in the pen

Leo Nunez didn’t have to do much of a sales job to get an opportunity to close on Thursday.

Shortly before the Marlins faced the Mets in their series finale in New York, Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire checked with Nunez.

leonunez1aa.jpg“I’m ok,” Nunez said. “I can go.”

The message was relayed to manager Fredi Gonzalez. It’s all he needed to hear to throw his closer back into action a day after he threw 40 pitches on Wednesday night.

If there was any signs of fatigued based on 40 pitches in 1 1/3 pitches the night before, Nunez didn’t show it. Instead, he neede 10 pitches (with seven strikes) to collected his first save of the season.

Gonzalez says he doesn’t talk to his pitchers about their well being because he doesn’t always get a straight answer. So he leaves that to St. Claire.

“I don’t talk to those pitchers,” Gonzalez said. “Randy and them have a good rapport. I hope they’re honest with Randy. When I come up, they say, ‘I feel good.’ “

The bullpen had a rough time on Wednesday, especially Renyel Pinto and Jose Veras. Gonzalez says when a players struggles, he tries to throw them back in as soon as possible to build back their confidence.

“I’m a big believer in putting guys in positions where they can succeed,” Gonzalez said. “I’m a believer in run those guys out there, and build their confidence. We can sit here and talk about how much confidence we have in that bullpen, but you have to show it. Those guys, the Pintos, the Verases, get ready to pitch, because you’re going to be used.”

— Joe Frisaro


Cracking the WHIP

From the first day of Spring Training, manager Fredi Gonzalez talked about the importance of the thrownig strikes.

Gonzalez added that an important statistic, in his mind, is the WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched).

What the Marlins saw on Wednesday night in their wild 7-6 win in 10 innings over the Mets is what can go wrong when pitchers aren’t throwing strikes.

After building a five-run lead on Dan Uggla’s homer in the top of the seventh, the Marlins pitchers lost track of the strike zone. The Mets rallied to force extra innings, and Florida was fortunate to prevail.

Ricky Nolasco uncharacteristically walked the first two batters to start the seventh. But the real damage came when the Florida starter exited with two outs in the seventh.

Renyel Pinto, Jose Veras and Leo Nunez worked 2 1/3 innings, but all three struggled to find the plate. They combined for six walks, a hit batter and a balk. The three totaled 82 pitches, but just 40 were strikes. Throwing 49 percent of their pitches for strikes created a reason for alarm.

“We can’t do that because we’re going to get our heads beat in,” Gonzalez said.

Pinto faced three batters and didn’t log an out. The lefty walked one, allowed one hit and hit a batter. Veras did get out of the seventh, but with some good fortune.

Veras’ first pitch was a high fastball to David Wright. The ball sailed off John Baker’s glove, and as it rolled away from the catcher, Fernando Tatis tried scoring from third. Baker retrieved the ball, and threw home to Veras, who applied the tag.

“I tried to throw a fastball away, and it was a little high,” Veras said. “The ball stayed close, and we got that guy out. That was a huge play with the bases loaded right there and David Wright hitting.”

Nunez worked 1 1/3 inning, and entered in a tough spot — the bases loaded — in the eighth inning. Because Nunez threw 40 pitches, with 19 strikes, he won’t be available for Thursday. Tim Wood, who had a 15-pitch (10 strikes) save, on Wednesday is a candidate to close in the series finale.

Veras noted that it was just one game, and most of the relievers hadn’t thrown in a game since last Saturday.

“We tried to get the job done. It happens in the ball game,” Veras said. “Maybe we tried to be too perfect. The best part is we won the game, and tomorrow is another day.”

— Joe Frisaro



J.J. making Saturday start

The Super Saturdays Concert Series starts up on Saturday night at Sun Life Stadium. The singer Nelly will be the headliner post game.

During the game, the Marlins will be sending out their ace, Josh Johnson.

JoshJohnsonawe.jpgThere had been some uncertainty as to when J.J. would next pitch. The 26-year-old suffered the loss in Monday’s 7-1 opener with the Mets.

Because of Tuesday’s off day, the Marlins were playing it safe before determining who would take the mound on Saturday against the Dodgers. Johnson threw 99 pitches in five plus innings on Monday at Citi Field.

He gave up four runs on five hits. He says he has worked on a minor mechanical change in his delivery, and he is feeling better.

Johnson has had a busy week in New York. On Tuesday morning, he was a guest on the “Today Show,” representing the People “All-Stars Among Us” program.

The Marlins now will start Johnson on Saturday, and go with Anibal Sanchez on Sunday in Miami. Sanchez is available to pitch out of the bullpen on Wednesday. If he isn’t used at New York, then he will throw off the mound before Thursday’s game.

— Joe Frisaro


Pregame ceremonies

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Cody still hopeful for Opener

Cody Ross continues to hold out hope that he will be ready for Opening Day.

Friday was another reason for optimism. Playing in a Minor League game with low Class A Greensboro, Ross had five at-bats as a designated hitter. Although he grounded out and lifted four flyouts, it was an encouraging afternoon.

codyross10.jpgRoss, who had an MRI on Tuesday, is recovering from a mild right calf strain. Whether he will be ready for the opener will be decided after he plays about five or six innings in the outfield in another Minor League game on Saturday.

The Marlins open on Monday against the Mets at Citi Field.

“We’ll see how I feel, and we’ll go from there,” Ross said Friday. “If all goes well, I’ll fly to New York.”

If the decision is made that Ross isn’t ready, he will open the season on the disabled list, retoactive to March 26. The earliest he would be activiated is April 10. But as of now, the hope is Ross will be ready.

If Ross did open on the DL, and a Minor Leaguer were to be called up, Scott Cousins is the frontrunner to get the nod. The other option is Jai Miller.

— Joe Frisaro



J.J. ready for Opening Day

It wasn’t classic J.J., but it wasn’t any reason to be alarmed about either.

Josh Johnson’s final tuneup before Opening Day was basically a chance to stretch out to close to 100 pitches.

josh-johnson.jpgThe Marlins ace gave up three solo home runs in 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday against the Mets. He struck out five. About the best news is his pitch count reached 92. Although he had a few full-count situations, he didn’t walk a batter.

“I finally got some consistency,” Johnson said. “I threw some good pitches. But not great results at times.”

It was one of those awkward outings. Johnson was taking the mound against the team he will see in New York Monday on Opening Day at Citi Field.

Typically, teams try to avoid matching pitchers late in Spring Training against teams they will see the first week of the season.

It was unavoidable with Johnson.

Johnson had the task of balancing getting his work in while trying not to reveal too much of what he will throw in five days.

“Of course, I’ve still got to work on some stuff,” Johnson said. “I was trying to not show everything. Show them some stuff, but not everything.”

The Mets, for instance, didn’t match Johan Santana, their Opening Day starter, against the Marlins.

Johnson says there are benefits to avoiding seeing the same hitters.

“Not facing me for six months,” he said. “Maybe there is an element of surprise. They see how my fastball is right now. I don’t think it was great today. It was a little inconsistent.”

A positive from Wednesday is the fact Johnson was back in a competitive environment. A stomach virus caused him to miss his last start. The illness also disrupted his preparation over the past week. He hasn’t been able to run the way he normally does or lift weights.

“It was tough. I haven’t run in five days, which is a little tough,” Johnson said. “Other than that, I was a little behind.”

— Joe Frisaro


Maybin robs Wright

In his mind, Cameron Maybin has made the play “a hundred times.” On Monday, the Marlins 22-year-old center fielder actually did it in a game.

In the first inning, Maybin went back to the wall in center field, and made a leaping grab to rob David Wright of a home run at Digital Domain Park in  Port St. Lucie.

“How about that, it’s kind of cool,” Maybin said after the Marlins lost 7-6 to the Mets. “It hit my glove, and I couldn’t tell if I caught it or not. I felt it hit my glove. I pulled my arm back over [the wall], and it was in my glove. It was kind of cool.

“I’ve never, ever robbed a home run in all the years I’ve been playing.”

Maybin’s standout play came with two outs in the first inning. Anibal Sanchez had struck out the first two batters he faced on six pitches. Wright got a hold of a pitch, and on a windy afternoon, the ball kept drifting. Maybin at first didn’t think the ball was travel that far, but he heard right fielder Bryan Petersen yell, “Wall!”

“I think the wind definitely took it,” Maybin said. “I heard Petey say, ‘Wall!” at the last minute. I actually just reached my arm out, and it was over the wall. I just stayed with it. It was easier than I expected. I thought it was supposed to be harder than that.”

Ironically, the Mets were starting center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., who has made some of the most famous catches to rob home runs in history.

“He made the tough one, though,” Maybin said of Matthews Jr. “He made one of the toughest ones you’ll ever see.”

Asked if he thought about robbing homers.

“A hundred times, but it didn’t quite go like that in my head,” Maybin said. “It was more like Gary Matthews, running up the wall, and making a spectacular one like that. It saved a run. I’ll take it. Anibal was pretty pumped after that too.”

Coming off the field, no one knew if Maybin really had the ball, because he didn’t show it. As he was approaching the dugout the first base umpire asked for the ball.

“He asked me just to make sure I had the ball,” Maybin said.

About a week ago in a B Game in Jupiter against the Mets, there was an incident where an outfielder robbed a homer. Or did he? As he ran off the field, he never showed the ball, and some wonder if a catch was really made.

Maybin exited the game in the fourth inning for a pinch-runner when he was on third base. The reason he was taken out was precautionary. He has been dealing with a strained left groin, and he felt a little tightness on a wet field.

Maybin says he is fine and should play on Tuesday at home against the Nationals.

— Joe Frisaro



Rainy morning at Tradition Field

Conditions were less than ideal on Monday morning, as rain doused the eastern coast of Florida.

The Marlins and Mets game remains on schedule for 1:10 p.m. ET in Port St. Lucie. But due to the rain, the Marlins team bus wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:30 a.m., as the team did some pregame work back at Jupiter.

The grounds crew had a busy morning working on the field.



J.J. may throw on Wednesday

Josh Johnson is still battling a stomach virus — or flu-like symptoms.

Yet, the Marlins ace is feeling better, and plans are being made to keep him on pace to start on Opening Day against the Mets on April 5 at Citi Field.

Johnson is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and if he makes his start on Wednesday against the Mets, he will throw on Opening Day.

Johnson was scratched on Friday due to the stomach virus.

Even though he will face the Mets again on Opening Day, the Marlins rather have Johnson see the Mets in a Grapefruit League game instead of throwing in a Minor League game.

Johnson came to camp late Saturday morning, and he threw off flat ground for about five minutes. The right-hander headed for home before the Marlins played the Cardinals.

If Johnson is not ready to pitch on Opening Day, Ricky Nolasco would get the nod.

— Joe Frisaro