It’s not every day a pitching staff coughs up a 6-1 lead, walks nine, balks in a run, and still walks away with a victory.
Apparently Wednesday was not every day.
The Marlins were back in action at Citi Field for game two of their series with the Mets, and after the disaster also referred to as Opening Day, I think the goal in mind for almost everyone on the team was "do the opposite of what I did on Monday." That strategy worked through six innings.
The Marlins lineup fared much better against John Maine than they did against Johan Santana. They tagged him for four runs in five innings, and between Maine and the Mets bullpen, the rest of the bats came out of hibernation.
Cantu was the first Fish to drive in a run this season, and he also became the first to go deep, homering off of Maine in the third inning. Hanley and Uggla added solo shots of their own, and every Marlins position player had at least one hit in the game.
In his first start of 2010, Ricky was "splendid" (to borrow Rich Waltz’s favorite adjective), and allowed three runs on 3 hits, walked 3, and struck out 5 Mets. It was also encouraging, after a rough go of things Monday, to see the Fish fielding their positions a little more neatly than they did on Opening day.
Things were going charmingly well, the season opener was being chalked up to rust and jitters, and with a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, most fans had penciled in a "W" for Ricky and the Fish.
And then the rest of the game happened.
Ricky ran out of gas in the seventh. He walked off the mound with one on, two out, and a comfortable four-run lead, and thus the game became one giant blur of badness.
Renyel Pinto came in for Ricky, but rather than record the final out of the inning, he gave up a hit, struck a batter to load up the bases, and then walked in a run before he was replaced by Jose Veras. Veras didn’t fare much better than Pinto on the mound. His very first pitch was a wild, high fastball that got away from Baker and very nearly allowed a run to score. He managed to escape the seventh inning without allowing a run, but in the eighth Jose gave up two hits, walked two, and was tagged with three runs.
Then it was Leo Nunez who came in with two out in the 8th to attempt a 4-out save of the game, but what he accomplished instead was to walk two batters, balk in the tying run, and blow the save.
The defense also seemed to take its cue from the relievers, and got sloppy again after Ricky left the game. Uggla committed a throwing error trying to turn a double play, and Chris Coghlan inexplicably airmailed a throw to home plate that could have produced disastrous results.
By all accounts the Fish deserved to lose the game. But in the top of the 10th against Takahashi, Wes Helms singled, a sac bunt from Cogz moved him to second, and Ronny Paulino drove in Uncle Wes with a pinch hit single to reclaim the lead for the Fish.
With only a one-run lead to work with, Tim Wood did what our closer could not-- he came into the game and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, and recorded the very first save of his Major League career to even the Marlins record, and the series.
Pat yourselves on the back, Fish fans. You’ve just survived your very first bullpen implosion of the season.