Views From the Cheap Seats – June 1st, 2017

What a difference a week makes. Heading into a 10-game home stand, I had low expectations for the Angels series with a sweep being very well within the realm of possibility. I even imagined Mike Trout homering off of us at least twice with the way we were playing. Not only did we win two out of three but we even went on to SWEEP the Philadelphia Phillies. To put this into perspective, the last time the Marlins ever won a series was back in April 21-23 when they were on the road with the San Diego Padres. That was over a month and 8 sets of games ago. Looking back, that is a pretty long time. Don’t mind me while I reminisce and soak in this beautiful 6 game stretch.

Dan Straily got plenty of run support as both Giancarlo Stanton and J.T. Riddle homered with Marcell Ozuna doing his part on a fielder’s choice and drawing a bases-loaded walk the following inning to put the team up 5-1. Straily tried to last through the sixth but with over a hundred pitches thrown, Martin Maldonado launched a two-run shot ending his night. Enter the bullpen: they had a 2 run cushion with only 11 more outs to go and David Phelps simply shuts it down. Thankfully it was the Phelps we all know and love. Which reminds me, have you ever when you’re at the stadium or watching the game from home or at a bar, say “Now would be a good time for a home run?” I frequently say it but usually nothing ever happens. Well for once my prayers were answered when in the bottom halve of the inning, Justin Bour absolutely waffled the ball with two runners on adding a nice 8-3 cushion. Funny enough, the previous pitch Bour missed it and it’s the type he clobbers, fortunately for him Angels reliever Jose Alvarez served up the very same pitch to marvelous effect. While in the last inning Kyle Barraclough got into some trouble and allowed two runs, A.J. Ramos was brought in to clean it up, successfully ending the game with a deep hit by Mike Trout sending Christian Yelich to the warning track but not an inch further for the final out.

Despite containing Trout in the first game, he would not be denied as Mike went yard off of Vance Worley on his first at-bat. By then Marcell Ozuna had just robbed Andrelton Simmons with a great leaping catch at the wall in an effort to keep the visitors off the board. Afterwards, a wild play occurred allowing the Marlins to even the game at 1 in the opening frame. With Christian Yelich at first, Marcell Ozuna made it safely on an infield hit, however, the crazy part is when Andrelton Simmons tried to make a spinning play at first… it went straight into the camera perch, or camera well. Either way that baby was gone and Yelich was awarded two bases to score. The Marlins had a golden opportunity with the bases loaded in the 5th with none other than Giancarlo Stanton at the plate, unfortunately, Dee Gordon got caught in a pick-off play and ended the inning. He WAS ruled safe at first, but the Angels challenged the call and succeeded in overturning it. Obstructed by Albert Pujols, the replay revealed Dee’s foot never touched the base. Ozuna hit an opposite field shot in the last inning but it wasn’t enough. Worley for his part finished with a not bad stat line of two earned runs through five innings of work accompanied by a pair of strikeouts. The final score was 5-2 in favor of L.A.

The Marlins drew first blood in the series finale with a homer from Stanton and while LA answered back with one of their own from Martin Maldonado to take a 2-1 lead in the fourth, we were far from done scoring. Ichiro Suzuki drove in Derek Dietrich on a line-drive with J.T. Riddle striking his third homerun of the season bringing Suzuki home in the fifth. The next inning Riddle would strike again with a double to left allowing Christian Colon to score. All in all 5 runs in two innings. The home team would tack on three more runs in the 8th as Christian Yelich drew a bases loaded walk to allow Dee in and Ozuna singled on a sharp ground ball to right field bringing in both J.T. Riddle and Giancarlo, though it’s worth noting the right fielder Kole Calhoun was charged with an error. A marvelous night on offense as the bats produced 9 runs on 12 hits while the pitching staff held the Angels to just 4 hits to win both the game and the series! Jose Urena had a good night notching in 7 K’s while allowing two runs in five innings of work, moving to 3-2 as a result.

Like I said, I sincerely did not expect a good series with Trout and the Angels but the team as a whole played significantly better than the last several games raising my hopes skyward for the Philadelphia Phillies. I mean come on, it’s the Phillies they have nearly as bad a record as us.

Star Performances from May 26-28

Stanton had a brilliant series going 3 for 5 in the first and third game hammering two homeruns and collecting 3 RBIs. But he wasn’t alone as Christian Yelich produced not 1, not 2 but 3 doubles in the first game of the series and made sure he got at least one hit in the following two while drawing a bases loaded walk late in the 8th inning of the final game. We also can’t forget Marcell Ozuna as he contributed 4 RBIs, 2 walks and of course a dinger of his own. Since this was a team effort, honorable mentions also go out to Dee Gordon who went 3 for 5 on the first set of the series in addition to a stolen base in the finale as well as a shout out to J.T. Riddle contributing to our victory on the last game with a double, 3 RBIs and his third homerun of the season.

As praise is heaped onto the offense, the credit also goes to David Phelps, A.J. Ramos and Nick Wittgren for shutting it down during the series and doing their part on behalf of the bullpen. The roadmap for the Marlins this season, at least when it comes to pitching, is for the starters to put in 6 innings of work and for the bullpen to take over on the last third of the game, ideally if a starter can go deeper it works to give our relievers a breather. So far this season, this has been a mixed bag due to a shortage of quality starts from our pitching staff and shaky performances from our relief corps.

With this momentum, my hopes were well-placed as the Miami Marlins absolutely torched the Phillies with a torrent of 21 RUNS in the 3 game set and even better the pitching did a pretty swell job too. The first game’s headline is not what you’d think it would be. Allow me to set the scene, in the top of the 6th inning the Marlins held onto a 2-0 lead thanks to contributions from Gordon and Stanton. Despite a good effort from Edinson Volquez to keep our adversaries off the board, he found himself in a nasty jam with runners on second and third with the heart of the order coming up, did I mention there was no outs?

A line drive JUST got under Derek Dietrich’s glove allowing a run to score. Now here is where the chain of events occurs, the Phillies’ Tommy Joseph hit a long fly ball heading towards foul territory as Stanton gave it everything he had to reach it and while he does, the ball bounces off his glove. Now the umps ruled it a foul ball, however, the Phillies challenged it and after careful review upheld the call. Little did they know the regret to come. On the following play J.T. Realmuto gunned down Aaron Altherr attempting to steal second for the out, except Gordon missed the tag. When you look at the replay you see Dee pretty much failed to touch the runner but that’s just it, Philly burned their only challenge and were helpless to stop it. Volquez ultimately strikes out Joseph to get out of the inning. Had Stanton caught the ball, it’d be 2-2 with the runner tagging to reach home plate safely. I was glad he didn’t catch the ball for that very reason. Thankfully, Dietrich atones for his mistake with a two run jack at the bottom of the inning sealing it and giving Volquez his first win of the season. Though, one must keep in mind this is a game of baseball…sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it does not and it’s the little things like these that can truly affect the outcome of a game as Philadelphia experienced. Would I have done the same if I was the manager? Oh absolutely since hindsight is 20/20 but for a game so close and being only allowed one challenge, it really does make the decision very important, enough to potentially affect the final score.

On the following game, our Marlins erupted for 7 runs in 3 innings and like Bour previously, Stanton hits a homerun right when I wanted him to bringing in Gordon in an action packed 3rd inning. Brian Ellington pitched a perfect seventh but was abysmal in the eighth, walking the first three batters he faced resulting in Nick Wittgren taking the mound. And man did he deliver. Wittgren ended the threat with only one run scored on a sac fly. The Marlins won the second game 7-2 on a night where Ozuna went 3-5, followed by Bour going 2-2, and Dee finishing 2-4.

If the Phillies were hoping for our fish to slow down on offense, they were sadly mistaken as the Phils were utterly pounded 10-2 behind a barrage of 3 slams, two of them from Justin Bour and one from Ozuna, complemented with a glorious ground offensive attributed to Gordon, Yelich, Riddle and A.J. Ellis giving Dan Straily the victory to help him move on to 4-3. Bust out the brooms boys that’s a wrap! Ring the bells! Call Papa John’s! Let your friends know the Marlins are on a 4 game winning streak! It’s the team’s first four-game winning streak since around the All-Star Break, LAST YEAR. Overall this has been a great week for the Marlins: The team defeated the Angels and contained Mike Trout, our bats managed to score within the first three innings of every game this week not to mention we scored early and often in half of the contests while lastly they finally solved Jeremy Hellickson, who definitely had our number the last couple of seasons. A grand total of 12 homeruns were hit during the Angels and Phillies series with 3 homers a piece from Ozuna, Stanton and Bour.

You can’t help but feel at least a little good about the Marlins right now. They will need the momentum with Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks coming to town.

Now, will we go on the rest of the season winning 80% of our remaining games? Probably not. Have our weaknesses suddenly disappeared? Na. But one can’t deny how impactful a winning streak can be for a team to lift them out of a rut and go on to great things, just ask the Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins last season. On offense we got talent, we got speed and we got power, the name of the game there will be, barring injuries, consistency while on the pitching side of things there remains a lot of work to be done. The bullpen in particular. But there are bright spots like Phelps returning to his old self (We hope) and good outings from Wittgren. Not to mention Jeff Locke is returning on Thursday to make his Marlins debut, sending Vance Worley back to relief duties.

Can this streak be the beginning of something great? Until next week, stay frosty folks. Go Marlins!


Stat of the Week: 8-8-19, no it isn’t a date on the calendar, it’s the homerun distribution by the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park so far this year with left field, center field and right field respectively.

Upcoming Games:

Arizona Diamondbacks: June 1-4 (Home)

Chicago Cubs: June 5-7 (Away)

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