Fish Cap: Marlins 5, Cubs 2

April 17, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher Heath Bell (left) greets Miami Marlins catcher John Buck (right) after defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-2 at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE


Source: FanGraphs

Attendance: 24,544

Player of the Game: Emilio Bonifacio (2H, 2BB, 2SB, 1R, 1RBI, .218WPA)

Goat of the Game: Logan Morrison (-.089WPA)

Play of the Game: Hanley Ramirez hits a three-run homer in the eighth to propel the Marlins to the win in front of their home crowd (.219WPA)

Before the game there was nervousness as to what would happen now that Ozzie Guillen is back from his five game suspension. During most of the actual game there was a lack of energy in the ballpark. A pitcher's dual between two righties, assisted by both teams making base running errors. However towards the end of the game there was elation. Hanley Ramirez set off the home run sculpture again late. And Heath Bell picked up his first save as a Miami Marlin.

Josh Johnson Pitches Much Better

Former Marlin Ryan Dempster, and current Marlins ace Josh Johnson pitched the heck out of the ball Tuesday night. They were both efficient with their plan (both starting pitchers went at least six innings). There was short pitch innings. And there were plenty of strike three calls as well (Dempster had eight punch outs). In fact, there was no score until the forth inning when an Alfonso Soriano groundout scored Darwin Barney from third base.

The Marlins got to Dempster in the fifth via two unearned runs. An error by Dempster as he throws the ball into the crowd scored Gaby Sanchez from second. Dempster was attempting to throw out Josh Johnson. Immediately thereafter Bonifacio plates Johnson as he singles to right. With the way the pitchers were going, you would think this might be the only offense the rest of the way.

However the Cubs tied the score in the seventh off of Johnson (LaHair RBI single). JJ was allowed to finish the inning, but going into the seventh inning stretch, the teams were tied at two. Would this be another late inning affair?

Early On Hanley Is Mr. Clutch

For the second straight game, Ramirez has lifted the Marlins with late-inning heroics. He beat the Astros on Sunday in the 11th. Now we have Ozzie talking after the game about how Ramirez has his swagger back. Great stuff. Why all the excitement? In the eighth, Reyes gets on base against the Cubs bullpen due to a Barney error (the Cubs second error of the night). Then Jose advances to second base because of a passed ball by Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger. Cubs pitcher Rafael Dolis is now pitching to Bonifacio while having to pay attention to the speedy Reyes behind him at second base, the potential go-ahead run.

Emilio Bonifacio then walks to join Reyes on the base pads. Obviously the Marlins fan is feeling good about runners on first and second, no outs, late in the game with the heart of the order coming up. But what happened next caught everyone by surprise. Hanley hits a laser to left-center that clears the wall, and send the fans into an instant celebration. Just like that a tied game is no more, and the Cubs now have to score three in the ninth off of closer Heath Bell, just to send it into extra innings.

Here is how Bell pitched in the ninth with a 5-2 lead. Starlin Castro flies out, Soriano strikes out, and Ian Stewart flies out. Eight pitches (seven for strikes). Quick and dominant. The Marlins win game one of this series. And all is well again because the protesters stayed away with Ozzie back. So all in all, a great night for the Fish.

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