Two cities down and one giant three game set to go. The Marlins now have been on the winning end of series in Houston and now Atlanta. Edwin Rodriguez pointed to this week as an early measuring stick for his club. Tuesday night didn’t have anything encouraging for Florida other than Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton finally back together in the starting lineup. Even with the 3-4 hitters back in action the Marlins were shut down by Braves’ starter Tommy Hanson. The young right hander logged his first win of the season after tossing 7 shutout innings. Chris Volstad’s arch nemesis returned to haunt him. He served up homeruns to Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. The 5 to 0 loss was a bitter pill but the locker room wasn’t panicking. The team was getting healthy and they had their ace going on Wednesday.
Josh Johnson exceeded expectations. Florida’s over worked bullpen got to sit back and watch 7.1 innings of no-hit baseball. Johnson held Atlanta hitless into the eighth inning, striking out 9 along the way. It was because of those strikeouts and three walks that JJ’s pitch count was mounting rapidly and ultimately made Edwin Rodriguez go with the quick hook after Freddie Freeman doubled off JJ in the eighth. The Marlins truly have a gem in Josh Johnson. It’s a shame that he gets overlooked in a market with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the beloved Dolphins. South Florida fans need to appreciate how special it is every time Johnson gets the ball. He’s already held two teams hitless through the sixth inning this season. If his bullpen doesn’t fail him like in 2010, he could be making space on his mantle for a Cy Young award in the fall.
Thursday night’s 6 to 5 win had to feel good for Larry Beinfest. Even though he watched Dan Uggla connect for the first of what will surely be several homeruns against the Marlins of his career. His vision of an improved bullpen was on display in the series finale. Overshadowed by Ricky Nolasco’s lackluster start was the four shutout innings produced by Brian Sanches, Mike Dunn, Clay Hensley and Leo Nuñez. Last year it was unthinkable to ask the Marlins’ pen to keep the team in a close game but this year’s batch of arms have not disappointed. Marlins’ relievers have posted the second best ERA by a bullpen in the National League. The Fish now roll on to Philadelphia to take on half of the four-headed monster. They’ll have to do it with a back end of the rotation that has been shaky in the early going. Back to back series wins is a great way to start the trip, but taking two of three from the paper champion Phillies would be icing on the cake on the plane back to South Florida.
About the Author
Written by Brendan Tobin
Life long Marlins fan who's had the privilege of covering the team the last 2 seasons for Sports Talk 790 The Ticket in Miami, FL.