The Miami Marlins finally snapped their seven-game losing streak tonight with a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. At the start of the game, the big story was that Giancarlo Stanton had returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a sore left intercostal muscle. By the end of the night, however, Stanton and two other players, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Lee, had each accomplished something impressive for the Fish.
Welcome Back Bigfoot!
Giancarlo Stanton returned to the lineup after missing nine games, but it seemed like he picked up directly where he left off. In the second inning, Stanton ripped a line drive down the left field line with a double, but it was his hit in the fourth inning.
In just his second PA back after an injury, Stanton turns on what looked like a Cliff Lee cutter and drove it deep into the reaches of left field and into the Budweiser Bowtie Bar area above the Jackie Robinson retired number. Remember, earlier in the year Stanton visited the number with a line drive shot, and he visited the entry of the bar with a long fly, so he hits the median mark between those points with a towering fly ball.
For Stanton, that was his 35th home run of the year in just his 118th game of the season. Imagine what he would have done had he stayed healthy for most of the season.
Mark Buehrle Most Dominant Start of the Year
This may have been Buehrle's most dominant start of the season given the circumstances. Asked to duel against an elite fellow lefty in Lee, Buehrle outshined his opponent, going eight innings and striking out eight Phillies with no walks. He did allow six hits, including a double to John Mayberry that led to a single and RBI for Jimmy Rollins that spoiled the shutout. But what was most encouraging about his batted balls is that there were none that left the yard or came close tonight, so Buehrle held the Phillies within Marlins Park and did not contribute to his most troublesome area of the season.
How did Buehrle rack up a season-high eight strikeouts? Well, he did get nine swings and misses in his 115 pitches, but that is actually around his typical mark for the year and his career. Buehrle instead accomplished this by pounding the strike zone fairly well.
This is a lesson in both command and control in a pitcher. Buehrle only got a below-average 2.2-to-one balls-to-called strike ratio, which is unusual for him, but you can see that his pitches were well planned from the start. Unlike a lot of the current Marlins starters who have been throwing within the strike zone but not attacking particular areas and staying in safer parts of the zone, Buehrle had his mind set on pounding the lower half of the zone. You can count the number of pitches up or in the middle of the zone on maybe two hands a foot, but the rest of his stuff populated the lower third or was attacking the righties away. It was a smart, calculated ploy by Buehrle that got them looking numerous times for called strike three or hitting in an unbalanced fashion. That command of the zone is what young Marlins pitchers should watch carefully and emulate.
Mark Buehrle's 200 Innings, Again
We already spoke of Buehrle's 200 innings in an earlier entry in our game coverage, but once again it should be mentioned that Buehrle passed the 200-inning mark for the 12th straight season and proved once again why the Marlins wanted him on this team first and foremost. Buehrle's durability on the mound is bordering on legendary for the modern era, as only one other pitcher, Greg Maddux, has done this in the last 30 years. In a season when injuries clearly demolished the Marlins' position players, it was good to see a pitcher shrug everything aside and keep on ticking as always. The Marlins will look forward to 13 in a row for next season.
Carlos Lee Walks It Off
The Fish had just been disappointed by a two-out single by Jimmy Rollins to drive in John Mayberry and tie the game, but the team took hold of the game in the bottom of the ninth. Bryan Petersen doubled to right field and got the inning started, adding 17.5 percent to the Marlins' chances of victory. Jose Reyes unfortunately grounded to third, giving the Phillies an out and a chance at a double play. They wisely walked Stanton to get to the "RBI man" Carlos Lee, but this time Lee delivered in a big way.