In what could be his swansong performance in a Miami Marlins uniform, Ricky Nolasco had a night worth remembering. With a potential deal imminent and storm clouds hanging over Turner Field, there were doubts that the game would even take place. To the dismay or delight of Atlanta fans, the umpiring crew ignored the rain and were focused on producing a full nine inning game.
The night began with a solid head to head pitching duel with Nolasco going against perennial All-Star Mike Minor. Besides a lead off double by Justin Ruggiano, both pitchers did a solid job keeping the opposing batters in check in the first few frames until Nolasco met his long-time rival Brian McCann. In his 55 career at-bats against Nolasco, McCann has a .345 average but the biggest statistic would be his eight home runs when he's going head-to-head against the veteran Marlin pitcher. Before Nolasco is potentially shipped out west, McCann was able to get one last home run shot against his foe which put the Braves up 2-0.
Since that lead-off double by Ruggiano, Minor was absolutely unstoppable putting down 11 consecutive Miami batters until the top of the 5th where he gave up a line-drive double to the returning Donovan Solano. The Braves starter appeared to be in the clear by putting down both Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis which put Ricky Nolasco who's a career .138 hitter. It may have been fate or just a slippery ball but Minor suddenly lost control of his pitches which lead to a full count walk and a perfect opportunity for the power hitting Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano and his bat jumped at that opportunity by sending a two-seam fastball into the left field bleachers to push the score to 3-2 in Miami's advantage.
To the surprise of many including myself, Miami's offensive game continued to produce key insurance runs as we went into the later stages of the game.In the 6th inning, Adeiny Hechavarria laced a sharp liner down center field which scored Placido Polanco, put Miami up 4-2 and basically Mike Minor to the dugout.
While the Marlins were trading punches with Mike Minor, they weren't so kind with reliever Steve Gearrin in the top of the 8th frame. Gearrin had notable control issues throughout the inning and threw up some ugly meat balls when he was able to put it over the plate. The team took advantage of his struggles by putting runners on base which ultimately lead to Jeff Mathis hitting a two-run, bases clearing double which put the team up 6-2.
That four run advantage was more than enough for the bullpen to pull together a 6-3 Marlins win to put the team at 31-52 before tomorrow's rubber match which will include the Marlins debut of Henderson Alvarez.