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MIAMI GARDENS — It was a good news/bad news scenario at Pro-Robbie-Land-Dolphin-Life Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The good news was that the Marlins had just completed their first sweep of an opponent in nearly two months. The bad news? That team is the Astros. The fact that the Marlins swept the Astros is encouraging despite the quality of the opponent.
The Astros fell to a league-worst 30-62 — dead last in the NL Central — and continued to ease concerns about not having a 100-loss team in baseball this year. The Cubs and the A’s have a shot at the reverse century mark but the Astros should sail past that number sometime before Labor Day. In case you don’t pick up on subtleties very well, they’re bad and not in a good way.
The Fish were able to complete the four game sweep on Sunday afternoon. This game officially welcomed a new teammate and also saw the re-birth of small-ball in South Florida. This was the first sweep for the Marlins over an opponent since May 24-26th against the Giants. It was also the first four game sweep — on the winning end — for the Marlins this season.
Same Face, New Place:
Mike Cameron got his first hit as a member of the Marlins Sunday afternoon. The 16-year veteran was acquired via trade from the New England Marlins — otherwise known as the Boston Red Sox — on July 5th. Cameron was making just his third start for the Marlins when he sent a Wandy Rodriguez fastball over the center field wall in the fourth inning.
The two-run shot by Cameron tied the game at three runs apiece and All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez put the Marlins up for good with his RBI double. Cameron was batting .194 for the Red Sox before he was designated for assignment on June 30th, but he was also searching for regular playing time. The Marlins, in need of a center fielder, can offer him just that.
Cameron is only 1-10 in a Marlins uniform, but he brings much needed veteran leadership to an otherwise inexperienced club. Couple him with the wise and aged Jack McKeon, it would seem the Marlins are boasting the kind of experience in the dugout that should hold losing streaks to a few games, not the entire month of June.
A New Flash In Town:
The Marlins do-it-all guy Emilio Bonifacio is en fuego. For those of you without a Pollo Tropical or La Granja in your neighborhood, “en fuego” is Spanish for “on fire.” The Marlins have never really been known for utilizing small-ball techniques. Over the last few years the only player who would steal bases is Hanley Ramirez. Emilio Bonifacio is helping to change that culture.
Bonifacio had a monster game on Sunday afternoon, going 3-for-3 with two runs and three stolen bases. The man they call “Bonny” is in the middle of a modest 12-game hitting streak, during which he has batted .372 and has committed 11 thefts on the base paths.
The relationship of the avera’ge Marlins fan with Bonifacio could be considered a rocky one. Bonifacio is often cursed and lauded in the same game, sometimes in the same inning. The Bonny that showed up for the Astros series is the kind of player fans can get behind. His speed and defensive versatility are quickly making him one of the team’s more valuable commodities.
The Bottom Line:
The bats have been more consistent as of late, though hitting against the Astros 29th-ranked pitching staff doesn’t leave a lot of room for bragging. It’s kind of like that movie “The Ringer,” only with the Marlins playing Johnny Knoxville’s role. Sorry Houston.
The pitching has been effective as well, though most of the loyal “Friends of the Fish” would like to see the staff’s successes stretch across multiple outings. This past series saw a dominant complete game performance by Ricky Nolasco, two decent starts from Javier Vazquez and Chris Volstad and a stellar showing from rookie Brad Hand.
Assuming Anibal Sanchez can rebound from his last two poor outings — 12 ER in just 7.2 IP — the Fish may be able to make a run once Josh Johnson comes back — if he comes back.
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