Hero of the Game: Giancarlo Stanton (0.181 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Bryan Petersen (-0.066 WPA)
Play of the Game: Giancarlo Stanton tripled in the first inning to right field. Justin Ruggiano scored. Jose Reyes scored. (+0.199 WPA)
The Miami Marlins have captured their second win of the series, defeating the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 and ensuring themselves a series win in this three-game weekend set. Tonight, the Marlins faced Cy Young candidate Johnny Cueto and, much like when they faced Stephen Strasburg, they seemed to turn it on just for Cueto, chasing him in less than five innings and scoring all six runs against him.
Meanwhile, Mark Buehrle came out and won the rematch of the second game of the season, putting up one of his best starts of the year. Yes, he gave up another disappointing home run, but that was late in the start and at a time when he probably should not have been pitching. Aside from that, Buehrle cruised for much of the game.Buehrle Strong, But Allows Homer
Mark Buehrle, for most of this game, was at his very best. And when Mark Buehrle is at his very best, you know exactly what that means: no walks, pounding-the-strike-zone control, and pinpoint command of his stuff. The control was there in spades; Buehrle threw 33 balls and 24 called strikes in tonight's affair, yielding a 1.4 balls to called strike ratio. That is exactly the type of pounding of the zone you want to see from Buehrle, who was a strike machine for most of the night. He threw a total of seven pitches in three-ball counts, five of which came on full counts. Even on those pitches, Buehrle saw great success, getting two called strikeouts and a swing-and-miss.
Speaking of swings and misses, Buehrle got those in bunches as well, inducing 12 whiffs in 108 pitches. That sort of percentage is significantly better than his usual mark, but we have seen this in the past from Buehrle, as he had a nice streak of four games in a row with seven or more strikeouts earlier this season. Tonight, Buehrle had hitters fooled all night by his changeup, which got six whiffs in 23 pitches thrown and just 10 swings. That yields a 60 percent whiff rate on the night! Clearly, batters were baffled by the change tonight.
The only downside is that the Marlins left Buehrle in a little too long and he made one major mistake pitch, leading to yet another home run allowed. Buehrle's homer problems continue, as he has allowed 24 dingers on the year, way too much for a pitcher who is moving to a pitcher-friendly park and into the National League. The Marlins were attempting to stretch him out to rest the pen another inning and get Buehrle closer to his goal of 200 innings, and while he did well enough to get 7 2/3 innings tonight, he went into the lineup a fourth time and got burned.
Offense Uncharacteristically Good
Johnny Cueto, on the other hand, had just the opposite problem against the Marlins. He only had two strikeouts on the night versus two walks, and in almost every inning, he ran into some semblance of trouble. The Marlins put runners on base in each inning, and they did their biggest damage in the first and fifth innings. In the first, Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes singled and allowed Giancarlo Stanton to well-struck line drive to the base of the wall in right field. Both runners scored and, due to Brandon Phillips hesitating slightly, Stanton made it to third. Carlos Lee drove him home with a sacrifice fly, with Stanton sliding around a good throw-and-tag attempt by the Reds.
In the fifth, Cueto ran into trouble immediately, as Ruggiano and Reyes hit consecutive doubles to score a run. After a Stanton grounder on a hard hit ball up the middle that was stabbed by Phillips behind second base, Carlos Lee decided to take matters into his own hands and launch his ninth home run of the season to make it 6-2 Marlins.
All in all, the middle of the lineup did the most damage for the Fish. Ruggiano and Stanton had two hits each and Reyes had three; each guy also contributed an extra-base knock. Lee drove in three runs and hit a home run. For one night, the Marlins offense ran as smoothly as could be.