Sep 8, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher A.J. Ramos (44) throws in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Hero of the Game: Ryan Webb (0.373 WPA), for Ichthyomancy purposes, either Justin Ruggiano (0.140 WPA) or Donovan Solano (0.131 WPA) will do
Goat of the Game: Chad Gaudin (-0.377 WPA)
Play of the Game: Jayson Werth homers in the ninth inning against Heath Bell. (-0.447 WPA)
The Miami Marlins were so close, as they have been in the past this season. Against the Washington Nationals, the season series has been mostly even despite the Marlins have been terrible much of the season. This afternoon's game was really no different. Much like last night's 9-7 victory, the team jumped out ahead to an early lead only to have that lead closed by the failure of the bullpen. Much like last night's game, the team got ahead with a power display that included another Giancarlo Stanton home run.
Unlike last night, however, the Fish were unable to score in the extra innings, and the Washington Nationals took the win after scoring four runs in three consecutive innings off of the bullpen.Mark Buehrle Solid, Still Plagued By Long Ball
Buehrle was decent once again in his start, striking out five Nationals in seven innings of work while only walking two. The problem is that as solid as those defense-independent numbers were, he also made two awful pitches that led to two solo home runs that sullied an otherwise good outing. Buehrle allowed only three runs, two of the solo shots by Jesus Flores and Bryce Harper. While the Flores shot may not have been all that much better hit than your average left field fly out or double, the Harper bomb was a moon shot to right field that went into the upper deck.
Once again, an oterhwise decent outing for Buehrle was demolished by the long ball, and now he has allowed 23 home runs this season. This total is the most he has allowed since the 2009 season and is already the sixth-highest mark he has allowed in his career. Keep in mind, this year is not over yet, and it seems that Buehrle is either running into an unusual spate of bad luck or he is beginning to lose either a little bit of command or movement on his pitches, not allowing him to make small mistakes on location. Either way, this is not a good sign.
Bell, Gaudin Fail Marlins
Yes, Stanton and Gorkys Hernandez (!) went deep for the Fish to push them to an early lead, and the team was able to capitalize on two Nationals errors and tally runs. However, the honest truth is that as well as the offense performed, the bullpen once again failed them. A.J. Ramos, who was stellar in his opening outing, failed to record an out and gave a two-run homer, a single, and a hit batsmen before leaving the game. Mike Dunn, a.k.a. Mini-Mayhem, failed to record an out and instead allowed a base hit to his only batter. Ryan Webb barely managed to salvage what could have been an uglier inning for the Marlins with a pair of strikeouts in the eighth.
But it only led to further problems in the ninth and tenth innings. The Marlins were about to send Heath bell, a.k.a. the real Mayhem, out on the mound in a 6-5 game in the ninth inning, constituting his first true save opportunity in the second half of the season. Steve Cishek was inexplicably absent from the process, presumably because manager Ozzie Guillen wanted to rest him. Bell promptly gave up the tying run on a Jayson Werth homer to lead off the inning. He did strike out three following that, meaning at least he had some stuff to work with.
The next inning, Guillen turned to an even worse reliever in Chad Gaudin. Yes, the same Chad Gaudin who was entrusted solely with mop-up innings at the beginning of the season was asked to pitch the bottom of the tenth in a tied game. Gaudin is at best a middling reliever and at worst a mop-up reliever, but with the team down "experienced" relievers, he has been thrust into a later-inning role than his stuff can really support. Sure enough, he loaded the bases with two singles and an intentional walk before giving up the game-winning hit with only one out recorded.
The Marlins turned to Heath Bell, their struggling former closer who has admittedly been better for the past few months, and Chad Gaudin, their former mop-up reliever whose only credentials are the amount of innings he has pitched, for the two most important innings in the game. Meanwhile, Steve Cishek, the pitcher most fans suspect is the team's best reliever, did not throw a single pitch. Managing for the win at its worst.