If it's true that close only counts in horseshoes, then it's a good thing that the Marlins and Reds were playing a game of baseball Friday night at the Great American Ballpark. Leo Nunez came very close to blowing a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but when the dust settled, the Marlins busted out of their Cincy Slump to win their series opener, Leo nailed down his eighth save of the season, and the Marlins added a 16th April win for the first time in franchise history.
Not a bad start to the road trip.
The Marlins, who typically struggle at the GAB, hit for the cycle and scored five times off of Travis Wood in the top of the first (presumably because they knew from experience that Javy would need a bit of a lead to work with). Emilio led off the game with a triple, and Omar Infante's sac fly scored the first run of the game. Hanley Ramirez, who showed signs of busting out of his personal slump with a 2-for-5, 2-RBI night, doubled to right field. After a walk to Gaby Sanchez put two on, John Buck homered for the second time this season and put the Marlins on top 4 to 0. Wes Helms added a single, and Scott Cousins worked a walk before Javy helped himself out with an RBI single to center, making it 5-zip before he had even stepped on the mound.
After a little time on the bases, Vazquez made his first start at the GAB since 2009, sporting a career 1-1 record at the home of the Reds, having allowed just two runs in 14 innings. He made it three runs in 15 innings when Jay Bruce hit a solo shot off of him in the bottom of the first.
A single by Gaby Sanchez in the second was the only hit either starter allowed until both sides scored in the fourth inning. Javy added another single to lead off the fourth, Boni doubled, and that was it for Wood. Carlos Fisher took over, and Hanley's single to center drove in both his inherited runners to make it 7-1, Marlins.
Things didn't go so well for Vazquez in the bottom of the inning. He walked Votto and Bruce, and gave up a home run to former Fish Jeremy Hermida to bring the Reds within 3.
Javy would last two more innings, and left the game after six, having allowed 4 runs on 4 hits.
The Reds bullpen fared much better than Wood, and gave up just three hits to the Fish in 5 2/3 innings. But Edward Mujica and Mike Dunn each pitched scoreless innings in relief of Vazquez, and held the score at 7-4 before Leo's nail-biter of a ninth.
With one out, Nunez gave up back-to-back doubles to Ramon Hernandez and Paul Janish to bring Cincy within two. After a strikeout of Chris Heisey, Leo gave up an RBI single to Drew Stubbs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Stubbs stole second to put the tying run in scoring position, and cause panic attacks amongst all Fish fans in observance, but Leo struck out Jay Bruce looking to end the inning, and kept his perfect save record intact.
Leo clearly prefers the dramatic victory.