Just when it seemed like things could not possibly get any worse, the Miami Marlins have successfully turned things around and are returning to Marlins Park to play the Mets this weekend with a record of 16-15.
Closing out games continues to be a struggle for the Marlins. After blowing a save in San Diego on Friday, manager Ozzie Guillen told Bell that he would temporarily not be used to close games. He has blown four of seven save opportunities this season, and has been unable to find the strike zone. However, Bell pitched a scoreless inning in Wednesday's extra inning victory over Houston, which may have sent his manager a message.
Starting pitchers are beginnings to get deeper into games, and the offense is finally collecting timely hits with runners in scoring position. The bench seems strong, as Greg Dobbs, Donnie Murphy, and Austin Kearns have all seen playing time, and Brett Hayes has done well backing up John Buck. The bullpen might not be as solid as in years past, specifically lacking a proven closer, but Ozzie Guillen has used available guys in certain situations, and his moves have paid off.
Entering the season, the team's chemistry was often regarded as a focal point. At this point in the season, the team seems to be working well together. Hanley Ramirez is adjusting to third base, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio are stealing bases, Omar Infante has been a pleasant surprise, and Carlos Zambrano has not thrown any Gatorade coolers after Heath Bell has cost him several wins.
-The Marlins completed their three city, nine game road trip on Wednesday night by defeating the Houston Astros 5-3. Even though Steve Cishek came in and gave up the lead, the Marlins were able to put men on base for Omar Infante, who hit a two out, 0-2 double to add one more win on the road.-Marlins Park is obviously much more spacious than Sun Life Stadium. According to Giancarlo Stanton, hitting home runs is much harder for a right handed hitter at Marlins Park. Lefties might still struggle, but there is less space down the line.
-Pitcher Josh Johnson had the worst outing of his career in San Diego last week, and has gone over a year without a victory. Catcher John Buck said that Johnson's pitches don't have the sharpness or consistency that they did when he lead the majors in ERA.
-After collecting the 77th pinch hit of his career, Greg Dobbs is moving up the all time pitch hit list. Dobbs is the active pinch hit leader.
-The Marlins have done a nice job of creating pitching depth throughout their minor league system, as Brad Hand, Wade LeBlanc, and Alex Sanabia all have big league experience. Although they were present in spring training, all three didn't make the rotation because of the Marlins already have a solid five.
-Wilton Lopez created controversy on Wednesday after hitting Hanley Ramirez with a pitch. Ramirez was escorted to first by the home plate umpire, but when Lopez was taken out of the game, he made the "Lo Viste" sign towards Ramirez and the Marlins dugout.
-Mark Buehrle will face Johan Santana in game one of a three game series against the Mets that starts on Friday night.
-Even though he has his 10 game hitting streak snapped on Tuesday, Giancarlo Stanton has continued to hit the ball well.
-Despite playing great defense at third baseman, Hanley Ramirez has yet to settle in at the plate. He is becoming more patient and being more selective, but is still struggling to put the ball in play.
-The Marlins called up pitcher Mike Dunn and outfielder Kevin Mattison and sent Chris Hatcher and Sandy Rosario to New Orleans. Hatcher and Rosario were called up to provide fresh arms in an overused bullpen.
Around The League
-Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner experienced a setback in his rehabilitation from a right elbow injury and was expected to undergo another MRI exam on Thursday.
-After a 10-6 loss to the Mets, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. demanded accountability from one of the most balanced rosters in the majors.
At Fish Stripes
-The Marlins have been much more patient of late, something uncharacteristic of them in years past.
-The 2008 Amateur draft was one of the Marlins' worst. They missed out on a couple of players, and had multiple opportunities early on.