This is what it is all about: a rivalry. Two teams with a storied history that are going toe to toe in order to claim the ultimate prize – and it is only just now turned June.
The Phillies took the first game in this series, which lead them to temporarily hold the top spot in the NL East, but it was not to last. After abusing the Marlins 12-3 in the series opener (and the first game of the season between the two teams), the Marlins flexed their muscles and exploded back with a 7-3 win last night.
And they did it by hitting 3 more home runs which set a franchise record for most home runs in one month (43).
Luis Gonzalez did some serious damage when he hit a key home run that gave the Marlins a 4-2 lead in the 4th – it was also Gonzo’s 350th big fly of his career. [Congrats, Gonzo!] Previous to that, it was Wes Helms, booed by the Phillies’ mob, who delivered a 2 run double to tie the game.
The rest of the home runs were stunning though, too. Cody Ross, who now has hit 9 home runs in his last 10 hits, continues his hot streak as he hit #10 on the season while starting in center field for Jacque Jones. The final home run belonged to Jorge Cantu who blasted a solo shot into left to add the 5th run to the Fishes’ tally.
Yet it was another strong performance by Ricky Nolasco that quietly sealed this game. He started rough, giving up 2 runs in the first three innings – both runs scored by a scorching Shane Victorino – but he rallied back to quiet the Philly bats down striking out 5 in 6.2IP. He threw 96 pitches, 62 for strikes.
Nolasco seems to be attributing his recent success to the fact that he is raising his intensity to match that of his opponents. Such a subtle change, but it has made a major contribution to his improvement.
Just in time, too. Because the Marlins #1 starter, Mark Hendrickson, got shelled in just over 3 innings of work in the first game.
Today’s matchup will be Andrew Miller squaring off against veteran Jamie Moyer. Moyer is exactly the kind of pitcher the Marlins have trouble with – doesn’t throw anything particularly hard, but throws pitches hitters don’t like to drive. The offense will have to stay hot to give Miller a chance who, although showing drastic signs of improvement, is still susceptible to giving up home runs.