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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.

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.”