Miami MarlinsThis Day In Marlins History
Hero of the Game: Ricky Nolasco (0.172 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Ross Gload (Remember him? Proud member of the Marlins Veteran Pinch Hitters Foundation) (-0.095 WPA)
Play of the Game: Carlos Lee hits a home run in the first inning. Lance Berkman scores. (-0.183 WPA)
Ricky Nolasco had a horrific first half of the season for the Florida Marlins, having reached a 9.09 ERA by the end of May before he was demoted to Triple-A for a small stint. But Nolasco's peripherals, while still bad, were not close to as bad as that ERA indicated. His 4.75 FIP was not good, but it showed that he clearly was not as bad as advertised, and when he returned from the minors, the ridiculous improvement continued.
By the time we had gotten to the start against the Astros on August 18, Nolasco had lowered his 9.09 ERA all the way down to 5.44. But things did not start off well, as he gave up a double and then a home run to Carlos Lee (weird talking about him as an opponent after a month of him on our team) to put the Houston Astros up 2-0.
That was the biggest play of the game, certainly for the Astros, but it was the only real damage they were going to get against Nolasco. That is because right after that home run, Nolasco stopped allowing anything.Twenty-Three Straight
Ricky Nolasco put out Geoff Blum on a swinging strikeout right after El Caballo's home run. That was the first of twenty-three straight batters Nolasco handled, notching all ten of his strikeouts during the streak. Eight of the ten strikeouts came from whiffs. Eight different hitters struck out against Nolasco, including two of them (Chris Coste and Geoff Blum, who started it all) whiffing twice.
From the descriptions of the plays, very few of the batted balls that were hit looked likely to land as hits or anything particularly dangerous, meaning Nolasco was mostly cruising during those 23 straight outs. Nolasco went into another zone in mowing down Astros hitters, much like he often did in that 2009 season, when there were stretches when he looked absolutely dominant. No doubt these 23 straight outs inflated his great numbers with the bases empty.
Home Runs Back Nolasco
The Marlins could not simply leave Nolasco hanging, and they came back to help him scoring two runs in the fourth to tie the game. Dan Uggla launched his 22nd blast of the season to tie the game that inning. The Marlins went on to pick him up with a big rally in the sixth inning. Jorge Cantu hit his 13th of the season to start things off, and the Marlins drove in two more runs on a Jeremy Hermida single and a Chris Coghlan bases-loaded walk. Hermida topped off the scoring with a solo shot in the eighth inning with the game seemingly well in hand, based on how dominant Nolasco had been.
Nolasco's run against the Houston Astros was an amazing accomplishment worthy of review, but it was not his only one of 2009. Indeed, Nolasco's 23 straight outs may not even be his best performance that season, but it was certainly an impressive feat that is worth remembering on this day in Marlins history, August 18, 2009.