Hero Of The Game: Austin Kearns (.438 WPA)
Goat Of The Game: Heath Bell (-.914 WPA)
Play Of The Game: With runners on first and second and one out, pinch-hitter Austin Kearns hit three run home run over the left field fence to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead. (.438 WPA)
Last season with the San Diego Padres, closer Heath Bell saved 43 games while only blowing five. He had an ERA that was under two and a half, and will always be remembered for sliding onto the mound as he entered the 2011 All-Star game to pitch the eighth inning. At the All-Star break in 2012, Bell has already blown six saves, is not headed to Kansas City for the mid-summer classic, and has an earned run average that is slowly approaching seven. Bell ended the first half on a bitter note, giving up three runs in a loss to the St.Louis Cardinals.
"[Bell] is better than that," Ozzie Guillen said. "We will find a solution. He is tired, and it is very disappointing to watch this every day."
Miami trailed for most of the afternoon, as Cardinals starter Joe Kelly worked out of trouble multiple times. The Marlins jumped on top in the seventh, as pinch hitter Austin Kearns hit a three run home run after Omar Infante doubled and John Buck walked with one out.
With a two run lead, Guillen brought Bell, who was trying to earn his 20th save of the season, into the game. Bell struck out Carlos Beltran to begin the inning, but then had trouble finding the strike zone. Allen Craig, who had a huge series for St.Louis, hit a one out single, which was followed by a ground rule double off the bat of Matt Carpenter. David Freese subsequently walked, which gave the Cardinals an opportunity with the bases loaded and one out. Tony Cruz hit a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-3 game with two outs, but following a Daniel Descalso walk, Rafael Furcal hit a walk off single, that brought in two runs, to end the game.
The Marlins got on the board off of Kelly in the first. Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Lee both walked with one out, two of the five batters walked by Kelly in his six innings. Ramirez stole third, and eventually scored on a throw by St.Louis catcher Tony Cruz that sailed into left field.
Both pitchers had settled in until Sanchez gave up an RBI single to Rafael Furcal in the fifth that brought home catcher Tony Cruz, who caught all three games because Yaider Molina was placed on the bereavement list, and gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Hanley Ramirez was taken out of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and replaced at third base by Donovan Solano. Ramirez punched a cooling fan in the dugout after an at-bat and now has two stitches on his knuckle.
"Very stupid injury, very immature," Guillen explained. "You're gonna hurt yourself because you can't hit? Good hitters don't do that."
Sanchez, who went six innings while giving up two earned runs, was pinch hit for by Kearns, who gave the Marlins a 4-1 lead with his fourth home run of the season.
Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek kept the Cardinals off of the board in the seventh and eighth, and the Marlins had an opportunity to add on in the top of the ninth. However, after Omar Infante, John Buck, and Jose Reyes loaded the bases in between two outs, Donovan Solano was called out on strikes before Heath Bell gave up the lead.
Juan Carlos Oviedo is eligible to return to the team towards the end of July, and that may put more pressure on Bell. The Marlins are nine games behind the Washington Nationals at the break, and host the Nationals for four games at Marlins Park beginning on Friday.
" We have to win some games. Games like that hurt a lot," Guillen said. "And we've been hurting a lot."