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MIAMI GARDENS — Much like the “Family Guy” parody of the 1970’s hit TV show, the Braves — playing the role of Tom Bradford — smacked around the Marlins for a series sweep this week leaving Marlins fans saying “eight is enough!”
The Marlins dropped their eighth straight game on Thursday night as the Braves took the series on its third straight one run game. That loss marked the sixth time in the last seven games that the Fish have dropped a contest by a single run. It was also the first time the Braves had swept the Marlins in a three game series in Miami since 1995.
The rivalry series began on Tuesday night with a pitchers duel for the ages as the Braves young pitching phenom Tommy Hanson squared off against Marlins newcomer Brad Hand, who was making his MLB debut.
Hand has been an up-and-down prospect since the Marlins drafted him in 2008, but he made the most of his chance to shine Tuesday has he pitched six strong innings of one hit ball. Hand became just the third Marlins pitcher — Aldaberto Mendez and Josh Beckett were the other two — to pitch at least six innings and allow only one hit in his MLB debut. Not to be outdone, Hanson matched his opponent pitch for pitch as he went six strong innings and only allowed two hits.
The Braves ability to scratch across only one run — a solo home run by Alex Gonzalez — didn’t hurt them as the Marlins offense continued to remain as stale as a week-old bagel.
The Marlins continued to strand runners on the base-paths — another 24 in this series — and consistently squandering scoring opportunities, going only 2-11(.182) with runners in scoring position. In fact, the Fish have stranded so many that ABC wants to do a spinoff series to follow up “LOST.” Edward James Olmos has been rumored to have landed the role of Edwin Rodriguez.
Wednesday night, proficient pitching was once again the trend. Derek Lowe took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning as he stymied the Marlins offense until Greg “Moneyline” Dobbs hit a come-backer that barely missed Lowe’s outstretched glove. Lowe was looking for his second career no-hitter, the other coming back in April 2002 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Lowe’s hard work was quickly unraveled as the Fish rallied for two runs in the ninth with two outs. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel blew the save opportunity — his first blown save since May 18th — as Mike Stanton drove in Logan Morrison and John Buck to tie the game.
Elation quickly turned to frustration when Freddie Freeman’s single ricocheted off the mound and went into center field. Perennial thorn-in-the-side Chipper Jones scored on the play for the go ahead run that would burst yet another Marlins bubble.
The final game of the series Thursday night brought to mind the great quote by Yogi Berra, “It’s like deja vu all over again.” Another strong pitching performance wasted and another loss by one run.
The look on Chris Volstad’s face night spoke volumes. Volstad had taken his own no-hit bid into the sixth inning — the deepest of his career — when the Braves got the most bizarre bunt single I’ve ever seen in many years of watching baseball.
The Braves’ Matt Young sent a ball harmlessly dribbling down the first base line. Harmlessly of course until it amazingly remained fair. Young legged it out to first as John Buck, Gaby Sanchez and Volstad all followed the trickling ball until it came to rest and the first base umpire singled fair.
That weak little dribbler was the first demoralizing act of an altogether frustrating night. After being down 3-0, the Fish attempted to rally in the seventh inning behind Mike Stanton’s 14th home run of the year — another solo shot — and an RBI single by Emilio Bonifacio. Those two runs would be all the Marlins could muster as they fell by the score of 3-2.
Being swept by the Braves means that not only have the Marlins fallen behind the division-leading Phillies by five games, they now find themselves in third place in the NL East, two games behind Atlanta.
April and May were exciting months for the Fish as they climbed to the top of the division and looked to continue their solid play through the summer. However, June’s play has been frustratingly the opposite as the Marlins have now lost 9 of 11 and are only one game above .500.
With the Marlins in a seemingly endless freefall and the Miami Heat nearing elimination in the NBA Finals, optimism is a rare commodity in the South Florida sports world these days. If the Marlins can’t salvage the upcoming series with Arizona, the Heat’s possible exit from the playoffs may mark the beginning of a very gloomy summer.
News and Notes:
The Yankees’ Joba Chamberlain will likely need season-ending Tommy John surgery after suffering a torn ligament in his throwing elbow. He reportedly tore the ligament while attempting to lift his seventh refill plate at a Golden Corral buffet…Terrell Pryor will not return to for his senior season as quarterback for Ohio State. He reportedly will go on tour this summer as the new front man for The Cars… AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) is currently on the lookout for a professional football team willing to relocate to the Los Angeles area. The Jaguars have shown an interest, however AEG has reiterated to Jaguars management that it is looking for a pro team.
About the Author
Written by Jon Melton
Born in the Northeast and now residing in South Florida, I've traveled the country in search of truth, justice and the best hot dog. A regular contributor for the Miami Herald, I cover all the sports that SOFLA has to offer. Have questions, comments or cleverly constructed insults? Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org