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Michigan State style bears resemblance to UW

September 30, 2010 Comments off

When he looks across the line of scrimmage on Saturday, linebackerMike Taylor may need to do a double take just to be sure he’s at Spartan Stadium and not on the Badgers’ practice field.

Beginning behind center and extending to the backfield, the Michigan State offense bears a striking similarity to the one the UW linebacker faces during the week. Last year, that worked to Taylor’s advantage, as he led Wisconsin in tackles with eight, including a sack, while also grabbing his first career interception.

“It’s like kind of like the same offense,” Taylor said. “When they’re similar like that, you’ve got a little more experience with it.

“This week, we practiced more against our offense than the scout team to kind of get us ready for the physical play, the running play and the play action.”

Quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Scott Tolzien rank sixth and seventh in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, separated by a mere three yards. On the ground, running back John Clay ranks third in the conference with 125.2 yards per game, just ahead of the Spartans’ duo of Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell, who rank fourth and fifth.

Averaging 233.2 yards through the air and 231.5 on the ground, the Spartans have the most balanced, and potent, attack the Badgers will have faced this season. Fortunately for Wisconsin, its defense ranks fourth and fifth in the Big Ten in stopping the run and pass, respectively.

With such a balanced Spartan attack, the key for Wisconsin — regardless of how Michigan State is moving the ball — is simple.

“We need to be consistent, that’s the biggest thing,” said defensive backs coach Chris Ash. “That’s been the biggest issue with us for all four games, just being consistent. If we do that, then we’ll go out and give ourselves a chance to win.”

One area in which Ash sees a need for greater consistency, especially against Big Ten competition, is tackling.

In particular, while he appreciates the confident, hard-hitting nature of his safeties, he’d like to see them do a better job of wrapping up when necessary.

“Every week we go, our tackling is important,” Ash said. “It might be more so this week just because they’re bigger backs and the way we have to tackle them is a bit different. But every week our tackling has to improve.”

With the Spartans’ size, the Badgers on Saturday will deal for the first time this season with something similar to what opponents face in trying to bring down guys like Clay and tight end Lance Kendricks.

While the similarities may make understanding the Michigan State attack easier, it doesn’t do anything to lessen the talent and balance possessed by the Spartans. Just as opposing teams have to do with their offense, the Badgers will need to defend equally against the run and the pass.

“They’re pretty balanced and they’re going to keep us in check,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to focus on what we do, be our best selves, do our job and hopefully that’ll take care of it.

“They’re a complete team. They can throw the ball, they can run the ball. It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve got to focus, play our football and hopefully rise up to the challenge.”

When he looks across the line of scrimmage on Saturday, linebackerMike Taylor may need to do a double take just to be sure he’s at Spartan Stadium and not on the Badgers’ practice field.
Beginning behind center and extending to the backfield, the Michigan State offense bears a striking similarity to the one the UW linebacker faces during the week. Last year, that worked to Taylor’s advantage, as he led Wisconsin in tackles with eight, including a sack, while also grabbing his first career interception.
“It’s like kind of like the same offense,” Taylor said. “When they’re similar like that, you’ve got a little more experience with it.
“This week, we practiced more against our offense than the scout team to kind of get us ready for the physical play, the running play and the play action.”
Quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Scott Tolzien rank sixth and seventh in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, separated by a mere three yards. On the ground, running back John Clay ranks third in the conference with 125.2 yards per game, just ahead of the Spartans’ duo of Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell, who rank fourth and fifth.
Averaging 233.2 yards through the air and 231.5 on the ground, the Spartans have the most balanced, and potent, attack the Badgers will have faced this season. Fortunately for Wisconsin, its defense ranks fourth and fifth in the Big Ten in stopping the run and pass, respectively.
With such a balanced Spartan attack, the key for Wisconsin — regardless of how Michigan State is moving the ball — is simple.
“We need to be consistent, that’s the biggest thing,” said defensive backs coach Chris Ash. “That’s been the biggest issue with us for all four games, just being consistent. If we do that, then we’ll go out and give ourselves a chance to win.”
One area in which Ash sees a need for greater consistency, especially against Big Ten competition, is tackling.
In particular, while he appreciates the confident, hard-hitting nature of his safeties, he’d like to see them do a better job of wrapping up when necessary.
“Every week we go, our tackling is important,” Ash said. “It might be more so this week just because they’re bigger backs and the way we have to tackle them is a bit different. But every week our tackling has to improve.”
With the Spartans’ size, the Badgers on Saturday will deal for the first time this season with something similar to what opponents face in trying to bring down guys like Clay and tight end Lance Kendricks.
While the similarities may make understanding the Michigan State attack easier, it doesn’t do anything to lessen the talent and balance possessed by the Spartans. Just as opposing teams have to do with their offense, the Badgers will need to defend equally against the run and the pass.
“They’re pretty balanced and they’re going to keep us in check,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to focus on what we do, be our best selves, do our job and hopefully that’ll take care of it.
“They’re a complete team. They can throw the ball, they can run the ball. It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve got to focus, play our football and hopefully rise up to the challenge.”

Mendez stung by long balls in loss

September 26, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Entering their series finale, the Marlins were tied with the Braves for the fewest home runs allowed in the Majors this season, while the Brewers’ offense was tied for second in the National League with 175 homers in 2010.

The Brewers were the clear winners in that battle Sunday, belting four home runs in the first three innings en route to an easy 7-1 victory over the Marlins in their home finale at Miller Park.

With the four long balls, the Brewers overtook the Reds for first place in the NL in home runs. Ryan Braun opened things up with a two-run blast in the first, and Lorenzo Cain added a no-doubt solo shot in the second, the first of his career.

It was clear at that point that Marlins starter Adalberto Mendez was in for a rough outing. For good measure, Braun added a second two-run homer in the third. Two pitches later, Prince Fielder belted his 32nd of the season, marking the end of Mendez’s start.

“They’ve been doing that pretty much all season,” said Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez. “From one to five — those guys — they know how to score runs.”

Lasting just two innings, Mendez’s start was by far his shortest since being called up earlier this month. In three previous September starts, Mendez was 1-1 with a 1.56 ERA, giving up just three runs on 15 hits over 17 1/3 innings pitched.

With his Sunday outing of two-plus innings and six runs on six hits, Mendez’s ERA jumped to 4.19 as he took his second loss of the season. The problem was an inability to be effective with his slider.

“He was relying on his fastball,” Rodriguez said. “When you face a lineup like the Brewers and you get behind in the count, they can make you pay for it. That fastball, even if it’s 94-96 [mph], they don’t care.”

Even with his slider not working, Mendez expected better results out of his fastball. Unfortunately, it was up more often than not and Mendez struggled to execute pitches against the Brewers.

“It’s about making pitches,” Mendez said. “If you make the pitch, you can throw whatever you want, but I couldn’t do it today.”

All the offense the Marlins could produce came in the first inning as three straight hitters reached base and Gaby Sanchez delivered Ozzie Martinez from third with a sacrifice fly. Beginning with Sanchez’s flyout, Brewers lefty Chris Capuano retired 16 of the final 18 Marlins batters he faced.

Capuano (4-4) left after just 72 pitches with a left groin strain, but not before delivering six strong innings and allowing just one run on four hits and a walk with a strikeout. His win came amid a celebratory atmosphere at Miller Park, which included several standing ovations from the home crowd.

Braun took a curtain call after his second home run, and Fielder had one of his own after being removed in the eighth after what may have been his final plate appearance in a Brewers uniform at home. Finally, all-time saves leader and former Marlins reliever Trevor Hoffman entered to his signature “Hells Bells,” closing out the Brewers’ 7-1 victory.

“As a team, we’re disappointed we’re not further along in a playoff run,” Capuano said. “That’s disappointing. But to have a game where you had some guys get some milestones, had Trevor Hoffman come in and even though it wasn’t a save situation they played ‘Hells Bells’ … it was great to finish at home with a win.”

Mendez’s poor outing also cost the Marlins a chance to split the four-game series with the Brewers, while also dropping them back below .500. Sitting at 77-78, the Marlins will need to win four of their final seven games to finish at an even .500 this season.

Their road record dropped back to 39-39 with three games remaining away from Sun Life Stadium. The Marlins will need to take two of three from the Braves to secure a winning road record for the 2010 season.

The highlight of the game for the Marlins turned out to be an impressive Major League debut for reliever Steve Cishek.

After being recalled on Tuesday, to bolster the Marlins bullpen, Cishek finally made his first big league appearance in relief Sunday. With his club trailing 7-1 in the sixth, Cishek pitched two perfect innings, inducing three ground ball outs, a popup and two fly outs.

“It was definitely a dream come true, that’s for sure,” Cishek said. “I just wanted to go right at them, fill up the strike zone as much as possible and whatever happens, happens. It turned out it worked pretty well.”

After needing only 18 pitches, 16 of which were strikes, to retire six batters, Cishek’s manager liked what he saw in his debut.

“I was impressed with Cishek,” Rodriguez said. “This is the first time I’ve seen his slider working that way. He was very tough on right-handed hitters. Going two innings, throwing strikes, I was impressed with him.”

Marlins beat 9/26

September 26, 2010 Comments off

Marlins pitchers set club shutout record

MILWAUKEE — Their team ERA may be just in the middle of the pack in the National League, but Marlins pitchers are among the league’s best in at least one category.

With their 4-0 victory Saturday night, the Marlins notched their 16th shutout of the season, which ties them with the Giants and Dodgers for fourth in the NL, behind the Mets, Padres and Phillies, each of whom has recorded 19 shutouts in 2010.

More impressively, the Marlins established a new franchise record with the 16 shutouts.

Of the 16 games in which the Marlins held opponents scoreless, Josh Johnson recorded the most wins with five. Anibal Sanchez pitched as a part of four shutouts, though he only got the win three times.

Right-hander Chris Volstad has been the starter in each of the last two shutouts, including his five-hit shutout performance against the Cardinals on Monday.

“I have to say that something clicked for him,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said after Saturday’s 4-0 victory. “It could be his release point. It could be his confidence in pitches. It could be something, because pretty much he has the same stuff.

“Something is working for him.”

Florida pitchers have recorded nine shutouts since the All-Star break after posting seven through the first half of the season. Their July total was five shutouts, the most of any month. The Marlins also had four shutouts in August.

Before Volstad’s shutout Saturday night, the Marlins shared the top spot in franchise history with the 2005 club.

Hanley, Bonifacio still recovering from injuries

MILWAUKEE — Little changed with the Marlins from the beginning to the end of their four-game series with the Brewers at Miller Park. In fact, with a win on Sunday, they can assure themselves of leaving the way they came in, with a winning record.

On the injury front, things remain mostly the same as well.

After sitting out four straight games with a hamstring injury, Emilio Bonifacio pinch-hit and played shortstop Friday, but remained out of the lineup Saturday and Sunday.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez also remained out with a left elbow injury Sunday, marking the fifth straight game out of the lineup for Ramirez and ninth in the Marlins’ past 10 games. When asked if he had any update on Ramirez before Sunday’s game, manager Edwin Rodriguez admitted he did not.

With both Ramirez and Bonifacio still out of the starting lineup, rookie Ozzie Martinez got his fifth consecutive start and sixth overall. In five starts before Sunday, Martinez was batting .263/.364/.368 with two RBIs, two doubles and three walks.

Worth noting

With his 21st home run of the season Saturday night, Mike Stanton retook the rookie home run lead, while also making a little history. Stanton’s 21 home runs are the most by any rookie who made his big league debut in June or later since Kevin Maas hit 21 for the Yankees in 1990. Maas debuted on June 29 of that season. … With four road games remaining and a 39-38 record, the Marlins could become only the third team in franchise history to finish the season with a record of .500 or better on the road. The 2009 club posted a Marlins-record 44 road wins, while the ’04 club went 41-41. … With one more RBI, second baseman Dan Uggla would become the 11th player in Marlins history to record 100 RBIs in a single season.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MILWAUKEE — Their team ERA may be just in the middle of the pack in the National League, but Marlins pitchers are among the league’s best in at least one category.With their 4-0 victory Saturday night, the Marlins notched their 16th shutout of the season, which ties them with the Giants and Dodgers for fourth in the NL, behind the Mets, Padres and Phillies, each of whom has recorded 19 shutouts in 2010.More impressively, the Marlins established a new franchise record with the 16 shutouts.Of the 16 games in which the Marlins held opponents scoreless, Josh Johnson recorded the most wins with five. Anibal Sanchez pitched as a part of four shutouts, though he only got the win three times.Right-hander Chris Volstad has been the starter in each of the last two shutouts, including his five-hit shutout performance against the Cardinals on Monday.”I have to say that something clicked for him,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said after Saturday’s 4-0 victory. “It could be his release point. It could be his confidence in pitches. It could be something, because pretty much he has the same stuff.”Something is working for him.”Florida pitchers have recorded nine shutouts since the All-Star break after posting seven through the first half of the season. Their July total was five shutouts, the most of any month. The Marlins also had four shutouts in August.Before Volstad’s shutout Saturday night, the Marlins shared the top spot in franchise history with the 2005 club.Hanley, Bonifacio still recovering from injuriesMILWAUKEE — Little changed with the Marlins from the beginning to the end of their four-game series with the Brewers at Miller Park. In fact, with a win on Sunday, they can assure themselves of leaving the way they came in, with a winning record.On the injury front, things remain mostly the same as well.After sitting out four straight games with a hamstring injury, Emilio Bonifacio pinch-hit and played shortstop Friday, but remained out of the lineup Saturday and Sunday.Shortstop Hanley Ramirez also remained out with a left elbow injury Sunday, marking the fifth straight game out of the lineup for Ramirez and ninth in the Marlins’ past 10 games. When asked if he had any update on Ramirez before Sunday’s game, manager Edwin Rodriguez admitted he did not.With both Ramirez and Bonifacio still out of the starting lineup, rookie Ozzie Martinez got his fifth consecutive start and sixth overall. In five starts before Sunday, Martinez was batting .263/.364/.368 with two RBIs, two doubles and three walks.Worth notingWith his 21st home run of the season Saturday night, Mike Stanton retook the rookie home run lead, while also making a little history. Stanton’s 21 home runs are the most by any rookie who made his big league debut in June or later since Kevin Maas hit 21 for the Yankees in 1990. Maas debuted on June 29 of that season. … With four road games remaining and a 39-38 record, the Marlins could become only the third team in franchise history to finish the season with a record of .500 or better on the road. The 2009 club posted a Marlins-record 44 road wins, while the ’04 club went 41-41. … With one more RBI, second baseman Dan Uggla would become the 11th player in Marlins history to record 100 RBIs in a single season.Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brewers seal losing record at home in shutout

September 25, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — When their home record sat at 4-14 in mid-May, third baseman Casey McGehee told reporters the Brewers would get back to .500, even if it took until September.

It came down to the 80th game of the season at Miller Park, but they ultimately came up short. With a 4-0 loss to the Marlins on Saturday, the Brewers guaranteed a second consecutive losing record at home, dropping to 39-41 on the season in Milwaukee.

“I think my point in saying that before was that we weren’t just going to roll over on it, and just say, ‘Oh, well we struggle at home,'” McGehee said. “We were going to keep battling. From where we started to where we are now, we made up some pretty good ground as far as our record here I think.

“It’s a great place to play, and we didn’t do the best job of taking advantage of it at times. I think the whole thing is just a little bit disappointing overall when you look at the overall results, whether it be at home or on the road. We’ve got our work cut out for us, that’s for sure, for next year.”

With all the offense they put up over the last three days, the Brewers probably would have liked to have saved a couple runs for Saturday night.

After scoring 27 runs over the course of three straight wins, the Brewers couldn’t figure out Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad.

Any remaining doubts as to what side of .500 the Brewers would finish on overall were put to rest Saturday as well. With the loss, they dropped to 72-82 overall, guaranteeing they would finish with their second consecutive losing record.

The biggest reason behind the Brewers’ poor home and overall records could be attributed to their inconsistency, especially offensively. Fittingly, this week has provided an excellent example of such inconsistency.

Despite being among the league’s top run-scoring clubs — as evidenced in their 13-1 win over the Reds on Wednesday — the Brewers are among the leaders in being shut out as well. Saturday marked the 14th time this season Milwaukee was held scoreless.

“I think that’s going to happen when you have offenses like this,” McGehee said. “We’re kind of built on hitting the ball out of the park. We can do other things, but that’s how we’re built really, and you’re going to run into stretches where you’re not hitting the ball out or you run into tough pitching. It’s tough to sustain a barrage of power over any time.”

Volstad (11-9) tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out two batters with no walks. Of those six hits off Volstad, none were for extra bases, which limited the Brewers’ ability to put together any sort of big inning.

Volstad’s success came on the heels of a five-hit shutout in his previous outing, a 4-0 Marlins victory over the Cardinals.

“I definitely tried to bring the last game into this game as much as I could,” Volstad said. “The pace I was working at helped me get momentum. I was getting the ball, getting the sign and making the pitch with not a lot of time to get myself out of whack.”

The Brewers’ biggest opportunity came in the eighth inning, when they loaded the bases with two out on three singles in a four-batter span. Reliever Jose Veras entered to face catcher George Kottaras, who ripped a liner to center field.

Unfortunately for the Brewers, it was hit right at center fielder Cameron Maybin, who secured the final out of the inning.

“You go up there and put a good swing on the ball,” Kottaras said. “That’s what I did. … He made a good play on it.”

Left-handed starter Chris Narveson delivered his fourth quality start in five chances this month, tossing 6 2/3 innings while giving up two runs on six hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

For Narveson, three hits — two first-inning singles and a seventh-inning homer — ruined what was otherwise an impressive outing.

“I felt pretty good,” Narveson said. “I know it’s toward the end of the season, but for me it actually felt pretty good. At times, I was a little erratic, but for the most part … when I missed with a pitch, I was able to make the adjustment.”

Narveson dropped to 11-9 on the season, despite posting his 11th quality start. Over his past 12 starts, Narveson has posted a 4-3 record with a 4.12 ERA, allowing 34 earned runs in 74 2/3 innings of work. In 14 previous starts, Narveson was 6-6 with a 5.87 ERA, giving up 50 earned runs over 76 2/3 innings pitched.

The biggest change, as his manager sees it, has been Narveson’s ability to realize what he needs to do to be effective.

“I think he’s kind of learned what type of pitcher he has to be, what works best for him,” said Brewers manager Ken Macha. “He does the fastball-changeup thing and mixes in a couple curves.

“I think he was trying to do too much with his breaking balls [earlier in the season]. He’s learned the back-and-forth game with his changeup, and that’s made his fastball better. He kind of saves his curveball for a finishing [pitch].”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Into the great ‘White’ open

September 25, 2010 Comments off

MADISON—On the Badgers’ fourth play from scrimmage Saturday, running back James White missed a blitz pickup that led to a sack on quarterback Scott Tolzien, and a seven-yard loss.

It would be the only loss White was responsible for during the game.

“I knew I had to pick it up from there and just had to be focused in and gain my yards and pick up all the blocks,” White said.

“On the blitz, I was waiting for the mike declaration. I missed it, so I needed to look out to my right, I walked up to the line of scrimmage and the guy came right behind my back and sacked him.”

White heeded his own advice throughout the rest of Wisconsin’s non-conference game against FCS opponent Austin Peay, picking up a career-best and game-high 145 rushing yards on 11 carries with four touchdowns, including one on a 66-yard run down the sideline.

His 13.2 yards per carry was good for the fourth highest yards per carry average in school history.

Simply put, it was a breakout performance for the true freshman.

“He’s a special player,” Tolzien said. “He can break one at any snap.”

With the way he had been praised throughout fall camp by the UW coaching staff and the local media, White’s performance also was proof there might be something to all the hype.

After fumbling away a chance at his first career touchdown two weeks earlier, four trips to the end zone against the Governors added a measure of redemption as well for White.

“I wasn’t expecting it, I was just going out there trying to gain yards and just happened to break it a couple times and ended up with four touchdowns,” White said.

White became the seventh Badger in school history to rush for four touchdowns in a game and the first since P.J. Hill had four on Sept. 15, 2007, against The Citadel. Putting his name alongside an even greater former UW running back, White tied Ron Dayne’s record of four touchdowns in a game as a freshman.

With John Clay adding 118 yards on 15 carries, Clay and White gave the Badgers a pair of 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since Nov. 7, 2009, when Clay and Montee Ball achieved the same feat at Indiana.

Those that have seen White’s exploits since early August were impressed by his performance Saturday as well.

They might not have been as surprised as some fans while watching White run right through the Austin Peay defenders, the Wisconsin coaches and players liked the extra dimension White brought to the offense

“I was excited because we thought that first third and short he was going to get that play around the edge,” said head coach Bret Bielema. “When we called it, I go, ‘Watch him go,’ and that’s exactly what happened.

“James is a very gifted football player with great speed and again, because he’s not out there every down, he comes in with those fresh legs and it really benefits everybody.”

While the total yards and touchdowns certainly were impressive, the play that stood out in the game for White was the 66-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

On third down with two yards to go, White took a toss to the left side where he was led by fullback Bradie Ewing blocking the only defender and nothing but green grass between himself and the end zone once he got around the corner.

“I didn’t get touched at all,” White said. “As soon as I got the ball it was just Bradie and the corner out there. As soon as he cut him, it was just me and the open field, and I just had to run away with it.”

Did he sense the Governor defenders trailing close behind?

“I felt somebody coming as I got a little slow towards the end,” White said. “He dove at my feet, I felt him miss and I was like, ‘Thank goodness.’”

Marlins, Sanchez struggle in loss to Brewers

September 24, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — It was a rough night for Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez. Things weren’t much easier for his teammates at the plate against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo.

Sanchez (12-11) allowed five runs over 5 1/3 innings of work, while surrendering a season-high 10 hits to the Brewers as the Marlins lost, 8-3, on Thursday night at Miller Park.

Through four innings, however, things didn’t look so bad for Sanchez, as he looked to be putting together a strong outing and his team trailed by just one run.

All-Star right fielder Corey Hart got things started for the Brewers with a first-inning home run — his 30th of the season — while adding a pair of singles in the third and fifth innings, as he put together a 3-for-5 night with two RBIs.

That run would be the only one allowed by Sanchez through four innings. He surrendered two more in the fifth, but his manager still thought he was pitching well at that point.

“Anibal, I think he was good in the first five innings,” Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “Then he ran into bad luck with bloopers and then a soft line drive, and then he got himself in trouble. When you’re facing an offensive team like Milwaukee, they take advantage of everything.”

The Brewers did just that in the sixth. Casey McGehee led off with a single and Sanchez hit Mat Gamel with a pitch, putting two on with none out. Following a flyout to left, Luis Cruz blooped one in for a single to center, loading the bases for Gallardo.

Despite Sanchez’s best efforts against the Brewers starter, he added a single to left, which drove in two runs and proved to be the end of the night for the Marlins right-hander.

“[Gallardo’s] a pretty good hitter, too,” Sanchez said. “My slider’s my best pitch. I threw it to him and he made contact.”

Sanchez did not escape a single inning without allowing a hit, despite holding the Brewers to just one run through four. The loss was the third in Sanchez’s past four starts, as he’s posted a 6.95 ERA, while allowing 17 runs on 26 hits in 22 innings of work.

When asked about Sanchez’s poor numbers in September, Rodriguez attributed them to Sanchez being “overworked,” while adding his thoughts about Sanchez’s season as a whole.

“If the season is over today, I would say Anibal Sanchez had a great season,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been pitching very, very well. Just for the fact that he’s healthy and he’s throwing — that’s good news.”

On the mound for the Brewers, Gallardo delivered 6 2/3 innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits while walking two and recording nine strikeouts.

The Marlins’ No. 1-6 hitters particularly struggled, combining to go 3-for-19 against Gallardo, with six strikeouts and one RBI.

“The main thing for me is getting ahead — starting off with strike one,” Gallardo said. “That opens everything up for you to throw your slider, curveball, and it gets them to swing early.”

“We’re still trying to figure out what pitch that was,” Rodriguez said of the pitch that got rookie Logan Morrison to swing and miss. “It was either a changeup or a split-finger. Morrison came into the dugout saying, ‘I had no chance on that pitch.’

“That’s why he’s one of the best in the league.”

Gallardo (14-7) was shutting out the Marlins through six innings while limiting them to just four hits. In the seventh, the bottom of the order sparked a rally, as Mike Stanton and Brad Davis recorded back-to-back singles and scored on a Cameron Maybin single which was misplayed by Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain for an error.

Morrison proved to be the final batter faced by Gallardo, who walked the Marlins left fielder. Capping off the inning, Dan Uggla added the Marlins’ third run with a single off reliever Kameron Loe, scoring Maybin from third base.

Right-hander Sandy Rosario made his Major League debut in the seventh inning, and the Brewers welcomed him with back-to-back homers. On his first pitch in the big leagues, Rosario surrendered a solo homer to Rickie Weeks. Two pitches later, Prince Fielder went deep with his 31st of the season.

An inning after the offense managed to pull the Marlins back within two runs, Rosario’s rough debut put the game out of reach.

With the seventh-inning rally proving to be for naught, the highlight of the game for the Marlins ended up being Morrison’s walk. With the free pass, Morrison extended his streak to 42 consecutive games in which he has reached base safely, tying him with Mark Teixeira for the longest such streak in the Majors this season.

Afterward, though, Morrison was more disappointed about the team’s loss and less interested in talking about his own personal accomplishments.

“It would’ve felt better if we won the game,” Morrison said. “I don’t really know what to say about that. We didn’t win the game today, and I didn’t make a play for Anibal I needed to make that kind of blew the game open, and we weren’t able to come back from it.”

Marlins beat, 9/23

September 24, 2010 Comments off

Hanley out again, still considered day-to-day

MILWAUKEE — Hanley Ramirez was out of the lineup on Thursday for the fifth time in six games, and the Marlins’ shortstop may not return this season.

“From what I saw in the last game that he played, he said he felt worse than the day before,” said Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez. “That’s not a good sign. If that’s what’s going to happen, I’d rather not play him until I see any real improvement.

“If he’s going to get worse, it doesn’t make any sense to throw him out there.”

Ramirez has been sidelined due to inflammation in his left elbow. He missed four games before going 1-for-4 with a strikeout and a run scored in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Mets, and sat once again on Wednesday.

In his place, rookie Ozzie Martinez made his third start at shortstop on Thursday with Emilio Bonifacio also unavailable. Rodriguez said Ramirez continues to receive treatment on his elbow and may see some limited action on the basepaths.

“He’s available to pinch-run, but we’re not going to throw him out there while he’s in that condition,” said Rodriguez. “So far, he’s day-to-day.”

Bonifacio should return to Marlins on Saturday

MILWAUKEE — If everything goes according to plan, the job of Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez may get a little easier on Saturday, when he expects infielder Emilio Bonifacio to return.

Bonifacio, who has been sidelined with left hamstring tightness, ran and hit in the cage on Thursday. Everything went well, according to Rodriguez, but he did not expect Bonifacio back in the lineup for Friday’s game.

“Even if he’s OK tomorrow, I would keep him out of the lineup,” Rodriguez said. “I would count on him as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter, just to make sure he’s fine. Saturday, I’m pretty sure he would be in there, if everything goes well.”

With Bonifacio unavailable, Rodriguez is without one of his most valuable and versatile options on the team.

Bonifacio provides his manager with the luxury of his ability to play all three outfield positions as well as second base, shortstop and third base.

“Having him and [being] unable to use him, it’s really tying my hands,” Rodriguez said. “He can play everywhere, he can do everything. It’s tough to manage without him, because you can count on him for everything.”

Martinez already a big star in Puerto Rico

MILWAUKEE — He made just his third Major League start on Thursday for the Marlins, but shortstop Ozzie Martinez is already a big star in Puerto Rico.

“Right now, he’s a hero in Puerto Rico,” said Marlins manager Edwin Martinez, who hails from Ponce, Puerto Rico. “He’s a nice story, and the country’s paying attention.

“He’s having so much fun. He brings so much energy to the field, it’s amazing. Everybody’s rooting for him.”

Martinez has drawn plenty of attention from the media in his home nation, including from sportscaster and writer Fufi Santori.

Recently, Santori wrote “Un Canto Para Ozzie Martinez,” and put together a video featuring himself singing the song.

“People really respect [Santori], so coming from him, it was really nice to see that,” Rodriguez said.

Injuries to the Marlins’ first two options at shortstop — Hanley Ramirez (left elbow) and Emilio Bonifacio (left hamstring) — have given Martinez the perfect opportunity to audition for a more permanent job in the Major Leagues.

According to his manager, Martinez has already displayed a number of qualities that bode well for his future success at the big league level.

“He’s fearless. He looks like he’s very confident that he belongs here,” Rodriguez said. “The way he’s been playing, the way he’s been taking every at-bat against very good pitching … he’s very, very close to making himself a big leaguer on a full-time basis.”

In three games with the Marlins entering Thursday, Martinez has batted .286, collecting two hits, two walks, a run scored and a strikeout. Martinez, who is better known for his defense than his offense, has looked even better so far in the field.

Asked if Martinez’s defense would be what kept him in the big leagues early on, Rodriguez offered his assessment of how he thought things would pan out in the near future.

“I picture him to start off as a utility guy — second, short, third base,” Rodriguez said. “Eventually, he will make himself an everyday player.”