Hero of the game: Logan Morrison (.137 WPA)
Goat of the game: Donnie Murphy (-.086 WPA)
The Marlins completed the sweep this Thursday defeating the Cubs 5-3. They were led by Logan Morrison's offense and a solid performance by the bullpen. Miami is now 7-6, and thanks to their four game winning streak, only three games behind the Washington Nationals.
In a game where Ricky Nolasco pitched just okay, the Marlins offense bailed him out with some timely hitting. Nolasco pitched 5.1 innings giving up eight hits and three runs. However, he also drove in a run in the third inning to give the Marlins a two-run cushion. Nolasco's numbers this year aren't awful, but some Marlins' fans were hoping that he could take a big step forward this year. He's only had three starts, but so far he doesn't look like a pitcher different from what we've seen from him over the last two years. If he continues to pitch like this, he can be a solid #4 for the Marlins, but that is almost a disappointment considering his potential.
After Nolasco escaped some trouble in the top of the first, the Marlins jumped out to an early lead thanks to a Logan Morrison single. Emilio Bonifacio walked then stole second, and Hanley and Morrison followed with singles. Once again, the top part of this lineup shows how it dangerous they can be if you let them reach base. After Morrison's single, Mike Stanton drove in Ramirez with a groundout to Starlin Castro.
In the second inning, Nolasco got into more trouble. With the bases loaded, Darwin Barney hit a 1-1 fastball to opposite field down the right field line. Mike Stanton misplayed the ball, and after an unimpressive relay, Barney was in at third with a stand-up triple. Luckily, Nolasco got the third out and escaped the second inning without giving up any more runs.
The game-changing moment today was when with Hanley and Morrison at third and second base, Greg Dobbs smacked a two-run double down the left field line. All of a sudden, the Marlins had a 4-3 lead. Later that inning, Ricky Nolasco added another run to the Marlins cushion with a weak RBI single to right field.
The rest of the game was not as exciting as the first three innings. Neither team scored a run as the bullpen's were equally dominant. Randy Choate and Edward Mujica combined to throw 1.1 shutout innings, and Heath Bell closed the door with a dominant ninth. Like most closers, Bell is at his best when he doesn't let any hitters reach base. Today, Bell only needed fifteen pitches to retire the Cubs in the ninth and record his second save of the year. He struck out two batters, and didn't allow any Chicago hitters to reach first base.
Overall, this was another encouraging win for the Marlins. The top of the order continued to put on a show, and the bullpen showed some positive improvement. The Marlins take on the N.L. East leading Washington Nationals in Washington, D.C. tomorrow at 7:05 PM. Carlos Zambrano will get the start for the Marlins, and Ross Detweiler will take the mound for the Nationals. In 78 career innings pitched against the Nationals, Zambrano has a 3.35 ERA. Hopefully he will be able to continue his success, and the Marlins will continue their winning streak.