May 14, 2004
Fish edge Stros on weird play
The Marlins beat the Stros on Thursday for the second straight time, 3-2, behind a top of the ninth rally that included one of the strangest plays you will see this season.
The situation was this. Dotel had already blown the save opportunity by giving up a lead off walk and then a triple to Juan Pierre that plated the tying run with no outs. The Stros walked the next two batters to set up the force at any base and pulled the infield in. Dotel got Miguel Cabrera to hit a hard chopper to third, Viz leaped to stab the ball, came down on the bag and threw home. Ausmus -- acting instinctively and not comprehending that Viz's touching the bag at third had removed the force play at the plate -- simply tagged the plate (the plate ump made the out call), and threw to first to attempt to complete an inning-ending triple play (the throw was just a tad late). After an umpire crew discussion, Pierre was ruled safe at home (the correct call), the Marlins took the lead, and Ausmus tried to find a place to hide.
All three of the games in this series were close, but the Marlins proved that their starting pitching is better than the Stros' strong set of starters. Carl Pavano dominated the Stros in this game, just like Willis and Penny did in the prior two games. Although each team's best pitcher -- the Marlins' Josh Beckett (from Spring High School on the northside of Houston) and the Stros' Roy O -- did not pitch in this series, my sense is that the Marlins set of starting pitchers is the best in baseball.
The Stros try to get back on the winning track tonight at the Juice Box by sending Andy Pettitte to the hill against the Mets. Roy O follows him in the Saturday game of the series, and the Rocket takes on the Mets' Al Leiter in what should be an entertaining Sunday game.
Posted by Tom at May 14, 2004 5:08 AM |
I said it before the season. Marlins have the best starting pitching in baseball. And AJ Burnett is getting ready to come back again.
Posted by: TP at May 14, 2004 10:17 AM
No argument here.
Posted by: Tom Kirkendall at May 14, 2004 11:43 AM
Given that, it's odd that no one gave them a chance before the season. I'm not suggesting they should have been picked as WS Favorites, or anything like that, but the ingredients that made them so successful last season are pretty much in place: fabulous starting pitching (with Burnett's imposing figure looming in the near future), speed at the top of the order, great defense, small ball style, etc.
They lost Pudge, but now they have a full season of Miguel Cabrera, they lost Derrek Lee, which hurts, but Choi is at least a good slugger and a decent defensive first baseman, and they replaced Encarnacion with Conine, which is an improvement all around, IMO.
They will challenge for a PO spot, assuredly, IMO.
Posted by: TP at May 14, 2004 1:23 PM
Sophisticated analysts such as the folks at Baseball Prospectus know that the Fish are no fluke. The only knowledgeable baseball folks who pick against the Marlins this season are ones who think its the Phillies' year in the East and that the NL wild card will come out of the Central. That's not an unreasonable prediction.
I do think the Marlins' Achille's heel is their hitting. I'm not a big believer in small ball, particularly in this age of slugging. The Marlins are not a particularly patient team at the plate, and that tendency not draw walks could come back to haunt them from a hitting standpoint.
But I agree with you that they are stronger than a garlic milkshake in every other part of the game. And McKeon is an absolute hoot. Got to love that guy.
Posted by: Tom Kirkendall at May 14, 2004 2:40 PM
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