Colorado can't come soon enough for Giancarlo Stanton, who is hoping Denver's high altitude will be just what the doctor ordered to cure his power dry spell. Stanton has homered in six of the seven games he's played at Coors Field, where the Marlins are headed right after the Milwaukee series. "Colorado always gives you a little extra boost, the way the ball flies," Stanton said.
Count Giants catcher Buster Posey and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis as two guys at the forefront utterly impressed by 20-year-old Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez and his history-making performance at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. "He’s really impressive — especially for the situation,’’ said Posey, who caught Fernandez and watched him join Bob Feller and Dwight Gooden as the only pitchers in the All-Star Game’s history to record two strikeouts in an outing before their 21st birthday. "You figured there would be a lot of nerves and excitement. But he showed great poise and obviously the stuff speaks for itself.’’
Chad Qualls doesn’t have his bags packed. But if recent history is a guide, Qualls could be on the move before the July31 non-waiver trade deadline. Qualls was dealt at the deadline in 2010 and 2012. "I’m not worried about it," Qualls said. "What a veteran told me long ago when I was a rookie was, ‘If your name is in trade rumors, that means you’re in demand. And if you’re in demand, that means you have a job.’ So you have to look at the positive in everything."
To say he was awestruck is an understatement. Being the fifth-youngest pitcher to appear in an All-Star Game was overwhelming enough for Jose Fernandez. To have the chance to stand outside the dugout Tuesday at Citi Field in New York with all the other stars in tribute to Mariano Rivera while the greatest relief pitcher took his warm-up tosses alone on the field amid thunderous applause, that sealed a storybook experience for the 20-year-old Marlins rookie. "I really think it was the best part of my experience in the All-Star Game," Fernandez said Thursday before the Marlins headed to Milwaukee to resume the season.
The Marlins went to the ends of the baseball earth for one of their July 2 international free agent signings. Center fielder Jhonny Santos is from Panama. Not the most exotic baseball destination, but getting to him was no easy task. Santos hails from Puerto Almuelles, a city of less than 25,000 on the Pacific Coast near the Costa Rican border.
The two worst hitting slumps of Justin Ruggiano's career have come this season. He took the lengthiest of those into Saturday's game. Friday's 0-for-4 performance left Ruggiano hitless in his last 20 at-bats. From May 14-20 he went 18 at-bats between hits. Saturday, manager Mike Redmond dropped Ruggiano from first, where he'd made each of his last 16 starts, to seventh. "It's been frustrating," Ruggiano said. "I'm just trying to find some consistencies in my swings, in my at-bats, something I can fall back on. I've been watching video, doing drills, trying to find things that worked in the past and going to it…I'm still having good at-bats and making loud outs here and there."
When Giancarlo Stanton gets going, it seems the rest of the Marlins' offense follows. But it has been a challenge to get the 23-year-old slugger to stay hot. "It's like, I'm me for two games, and then I'm back to [bad] for 10," Stanton said of his inconsistent year. "That's kind of how it's been all year. We still have the second half." Stanton remains one of the biggest power threats in the game. But his numbers have not reflected what he did in his first three seasons. Injuries have played a factor, as he missed all of May with a strained right hamstring. In 53 games before Sunday, he was batting .241 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs.
After earning a second chance to prove his worth in Miami's starting rotation, Tom Koehler is eager to impress. Koehler will take the hill against the Rockies for his first MLB start since July 2. He has spent time in the Marlins' bullpen and at Triple-A New Orleans during the All-Star break. Now that he is back to being a starter, Koehler hopes to be show more consistency in his second stint in Miami's rotation. He previously recorded four quality starts in 10 tries, three of which came in consecutive outings.
Miami right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who hadn't pitched fewer than six innings in his first six starts, was tagged for six runs on 10 hits in four innings. "Most of the counts, I was behind," Eovaldi said. "I wasn't getting strike one, and then the fastball was up in the zone. It's hard to pitch that way. "It's definitely frustrating, the way we played last night, and come into today. A long first inning again -- giving up two runs. Just not attacking, really. I've got to attack those guys better." After the Marlins went 21-17 from June 1 to the All-Star break, Redmond felt his team was past the struggles of the first two months, when his young club was frequently frustrated.
Through Saturday, the Marlins have grounded into 89 double plays, the fourth most in the game. Double plays have crippled the club all season. "I think that's what happens when you're not swinging the bats well: You ground into double plays," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "That's what happened for [the first] two months. We were grounding into double plays.
Despite losing the first two games at Miller Park, Miami's 'pen combined for seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. "A successful 'pen kind of goes hand-in-hand with the starters," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "What's happened is, as the starting pitching has improved, so has the 'pen. They haven't had the stress on them that they did before, handling the innings." For the most part, Miami's starting pitching has been highly effective -- and dramatically improved -- since June 1. Their collective ERA of 3.60 in that span is middle of the pack in the National League.
Around The League
Everything went perfectly for the Dodgers on Sunday, until one hiccup in the ninth inning of their series finale against the Nationals put a slight damper on the festivities. Matt Kemp came off the disabled list to go 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, Carl Crawford broke out of a slump with three hits, Hanley Ramirez slammed a three-run homer and Clayton Kershaw dominated for seven innings in a 9-2 victory. That gave the Dodgers a three-game sweep coming out the All-Star break, improved them to 20-5 since June 22, and pulled them into a tie with the D-backs atop the NL West, although Arizona later beat San Francisco to move back ahead by a half-game.
ver the weekend, it appeared Matt Garza was Texas-bound. Now there's no telling where Garza will end up. But it seems he'll remain with the Cubs long enough to make his scheduled start Monday against the D-backs. "I'd say 100 percent he's going to be pitching [Monday]," Cubs manager Dave Sveum said
The idea of selling high is too often seen as a purely statistical notion. Is a player with a career 750 OPS putting up a 900 mark in July? Sell high! Is a pitcher posting a 2.50 ERA in the first half after years of middling performance? Sell high! Does a hitter have a .200 BABIP? Buy low! This is the kind of attitude that begets a John Buck for Andrew McCutchen trade offer in mid-April, when Buck had 6 home runs in 10 games and McCutchen was hitting .233.
The allure of Mike Napoli -- the reason the prolonged slumps and all of the strikeouts can be worth it -- was there for all to see at 12:53 a.m. ET on Monday, as he was mobbed by his teammates at home plate after ending a thrilling 8-7, 11-inning victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park. At that joyous moment for the Red Sox, it hardly mattered at all that Napoli had struck out three more times and thwarted a potential winning rally in the eighth by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play.
At Fish Stripes
After a 35 win first half, President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest and Manager Mike Redmond are hoping for the Marlins' young core to continue to develop in the second half. Beinfest has stressed the importance of the team making progress.
The Miami Marlins are being careful with Jose Fernandez this season, and the reason is obvious: the team wants to be careful with the best pitching prospect in Marlins history.
Domingo German was lights out for the GCL Marlins, Brent Keys and Ryan Rieger both had three hits for Jupiter, Mark Canha went deep for Jacksonville, and Gorkys Hernandez and Kyle Skipworth had big days for New Orleans.
This week, the Miami Marlins played just three games, but in getting shut out all three outings, they showed a whole lot for fans to worry about.