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Fish Wrap - Marlins 14, Rays 9

The Marlins kicked off the Citrus Series against the Rays at Tropicana Field Friday night, and very nearly pulled off a blowout of their American League counterparts. But, thanks to our struggling 'pen, what should have ended up as a route of the Rays very nearly turned into a nail-biter.

OK, nail-biter may not be entirely accurate (kind of like the pitches of our relievers these days), but the Marlins did make it plenty more interesting than it needed to be, after taking an 11-2 lead early on.

Anibal Sanchez went seven innings for the Fish, and backed by an explosive night offensively for his teammates, put in a solid performance. Sanchy gave up four runs on seven hits, while the Marlins bats had a field day with James Shields, who was a mess on the mound. Shields gave up ten runs on nine hits over just three and a third innings.

Once again, the Marlins scored in the first. Chris Coghlan, who would go 4-for-4 with two walks, led off the game with a double, and scored on a Hanley Ramirez sac fly.

In the third, the Fish put five runs on the board. With the bases load and two out, Dan Uggla walked in a run. Cody Ross followed with a two-run single, and Mike Stanton got the first extra-base hit of his Big League career, a stand up triple that drove in two.

The Marlins scored four more times in the fourth. Ronny Paulino led off with a single and stole second base (no, that wasn't a typo), and after Coghlan singled, Gaby Sanchez hit a three-run home run to put the Marlins up 10-0. With one out, Andy Sonnanstine took over for Shields and allowed another run on a single from Cody Ross.

Gaby Sanchez collected his fourth RBI of the game in the fifth, when he hit a sac fly to score Wes Helms, who had tripled.

In the seventh, Mike Stanton doubled and scored on an RBI single from Chris Coghlan, and Gaby capped off the Marlins scoring with another home run, a two-run shot to give the Fish a 14-3 lead. Gaby finished the night 4-for-5 with two homers and six RBI.

The performance that the Marlins bullpen put on in the final two innings of the game put quite a damper on an otherwise exciting game for the Fish. Rick VandenHurk lasted just a third of an inning. He gave up four runs to the Rays, but only one was earned, thanks to some supremely poor fielding from the Marlins, who had two errors in the inning. 

Taylor Tankersley relieved VandenHurk, walked two batters, and continued the tradition of the bullpen, allowing both of his inherited runners to score, including one run on a wild pitch.

Clay Hensley had to be called on to get the elusive final out in the eighth, and he struck out Willy Aybar to (finally) end the inning.

Hensley  pitched the ninth as well, and despite another error by Wes helms--the Marlins' third error of the game--only gave up one run before shutting down the Rays and securing the victory for Anibal.

It wasn't the prettiest thing we've ever seen, but the Marlins took game one of the Citrus Series, 14-9.