Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez quiet Marlins' bats

Rob Carr

Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and the Washington bullpen prevented the Marlins from scoring their first run of the season through their first two games. Is the lack of runs a sign of youth or does it prove just how productive the Nationals' pitching staff is?

Prior to the 2011 mid-July trading deadline, the Oakland Athletics were prepared to send lefty Gio Gonzalez to the Marlins in exchange for first baseman Logan Morrison. At the time, Morrison was healthy and hitting in the middle of the Marlins' lineup. Now, Morrison is on the disabled list while Gonzalez is expected to win more than twenty games as he did last year.

Many expected a slow start, though few likely predicted that the Marlins would be unable to construct a run in their first two games of the season. Facing quality pitchers such as Washington ace Steven Strasburg and Gonzalez can clearly do that to a team.

One of the immediate excuses that will be thrown around is the fact that the Marlins have a very youthful team. Before the season, several declared that the Miami Marlins were a triple-A team at best, a team that has few players with major league experience.

However, the squad has a variety of different players who have proven that they can have success at the big league level. Greg Dobbs, Miguel Olivo, and Juan Pierre are all athletes who in their careers have been able to drive in runs in key situations. This season, offensively, the team has yet to produce.

If in their first two games the Marlins were shut out but fell because of poor pitching performances by Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Slowey, the issue would appear less significant. Though because Nolasco gave up two runs in a quality start and Slowey only one in 5 1/3 innings, the issue is magnified.

Like in 2012, the Marlins, early on, have received quality performances on the mound but were unable to win close games. Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and even Nolasco last year and prior to it received no-decisions sometimes because of a bullpen meltdown, but more frequently because of a lack of offense.

It is early, but if the first two games were any indication, rookie major league hitting coach Tino Martinez has his work cut out for him. Manager Mike Redmond isn't too worried. At least not yet.

"We've had some chances," manager Mike Redmond said. "But [the Nationals] have made some good pitches and have gotten out of some situations as well. We've got a couple of guys who may be pressing, too, but we'll be fine. We've just got to continue to go out there and keep grinding it out; get that first run across and take the pressure off guys."

The Marlins will score enough runs to win a number of games. Through the first two contests, though, the bats remained silent.

Somewhere, Billy Beane is laughing. He could have potentially traded for an injured first baseman, but instead got a load of healthy prospects from Washington. Having won 22 games as a National, with the most recent victory coming against the Marlins, Washington didn't lose the deal by acquiring Gonzalez.

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