Hero of the Game: Josh Johnson (+.207 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Hanley Ramirez (-.024 WPA)
The Marlins pulled off an impressive win in front of a national audience on Monday. Josh Johnson dominated Red Sox hitters for seven innings, and the Miami hitters put some good swings on the ball. Miami appeared in control throughout the whole game, so it was no surprise to see the Marlins break out of their slump with an important series-opening win.
After being swept by both the Braves and the Rays, this win was a very important momentum boost for a Marlins ballclub that had looked frustrated. The Red Sox have been struggling as well, but nonetheless, it was nice to see the Marlins finally get a win.
Josh Johnson's cutter was terrific tonight and he located his fastballs all over the corners of the strike zone. He dominated the Red Sox for seven innings, only giving up one run. In the sixth inning, a Dustin Pedroia line-drive double gave Boston runners on second and third with only one out. On Pedroia's hit it looked like Scott Podsednik was going to score, but the Red Sox third base coach decided not to test Logan Morrison's arm. Johnson finished with seven strikeouts and only one walk. His next start will likely come in Tampa Bay, where in two previous appearances; he has thrown two quality starts.
The Marlins scored all of their runs in the first two innings, for the rest of their game, the offense was nonexistent. In fact, after the first two innings, the Marlins didn't even record another hit. The Marlins are currently twelfth in the National League in Runs per Game, and Manager Ozzie Guillen has no time to waste to figure out how to get this offense to produce more runs. If this continues, the Marlins should consider trading for an impact bat at the trade deadline.
After a Jose Reyes triple to lead off the bottom of the first, Donovan Solano got a 2-1 fastball, which he hit to right field scoring Reyes. The scoring continued in that same inning after Adrian Gonzalez misplayed a Logan Morrison double in right field, allowing Giancarlo Stanton to score. Miami added another run when Gaby Sanchez singled, in just his second game back since being sent down to Triple-A. It was nice to see Sanchez get a hit, but this doesn't mean that he is a different player since his demotion. Let's wait and see before we can officially say that Sanchez is "back".
In the same inning, Johnson somehow only allowed one run to score, on an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly. Retiring two dangerous hitters in Gonzalez and David Ortiz was an impressive feat for Johnson, especially considering he had already thrown over one hundred pitches. Also, it was very ballsy of Ozzie Guillen to keep Johnson in the game, with his pitch count.
The Marlins hitters should have knocked Josh Beckett out of the ballgame much earlier. I was a little disappointed to see some of the Marlins being so aggressive early in the count. If the Marlins had made Josh Beckett work harder, they could have blown this game apart. Instead, Beckett only needed ninety-seven pitches to work through seven innings. John Buck was the only Marlins player to draw a walk against Beckett.
One player I was impressed by tonight was Donovan Solano. After watching many of Solano's games as he was rising through the Cardinals system, I was enthralled when the Marlins signed him to a minor league deal this offseason. Donnie Murphy made the final roster after Spring Training, even though Solano outperformed him in the Grapefruit League. Solano is primarily an infielder, but the Marlins have been using him as an outfielder as well. Tonight, Solano was hitting in the #2 hole, and he had a clutch single up the middle driving in a run, and he had a sacrifice fly as well. So far, he is hitting .455 in twenty-two at-bats. Solano is probably never going to be more than a utility player, but he could be a valuable player to have on your roster.
The Marlins take on the Red Sox again tomorrow at 7:10 PM ET. On the mound for the Marlins will be Mark Buerhle, and Clay Bucholz will go for the Red Sox. Bucholz has gone an average of eight innings in each of his last starts, so I'm afraid that he will have no problem mowing down the Marlins hitters. However, baseball is unpredictable, and that's why we love it.