This was probably a weekend of the best professional baseball the state of Florida has seen in its short history represented in MLB. Both the Marlins and the Rays, no longer the Devil Rays as new ownership has looked to turn the franchise around (they are in the final stages of securing funding for a new stadium, by the way), possess some of the best records in all of baseball.
Tampa Bay is currently 40-29 and only 2.5 games behind the Red Sox, whom they are literally fighting with for the top spot in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Marlins have seen their share of first place but have fallen to 2nd in the NL East as they are now 3 games behind the Phillies with a 37-32 record.
The Marlins came to the Trop with a chance to continue to dominate their cross-state brethren, the Marlins lead the series all time with a 35-23 record including a 15-14 record at Tropicana Field. But this time the Rays took the “Citrus Series” by taking the first two games. The Marlins, however, salvaged the series with an excellent pitching performance by Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco struck out a career high 12 Rays and also pitched 8 2/3 innings – one out away from a complete game, which would have been his first of his career. He threw 131 pitches, which is by far his season high having only exceeded 100 pitches twice this season thus far.
Nolasco has also quietly turned around his season. He started off struggling a bit to begin the season, but is now basking in the limelight on this rotation with a 7-4 record (tied for most wins on the team). He has thrown 80.2 innings, has 13 starts, and has 55 Ks to 27 BBs. His ERA is a solid 4.35 but over the last 6 starts he is 5-1 and has thrown at least 5 innings each time out. Hey, that is a pretty big accomplishment for the Marlins rotation at this point.
Still, with solid pitching of late Ricky Nolasco has been giving the Marlins exactly what they need – consistent quality starts. Mark Hendrickson continues to struggle and Scott Olsen has left many wondering if he will get his fastball back.
The game today also saw the Marlins offense wake up as they scored 9 runs: 6 runs coming off of two 3 run bombs delivered by Wes Helms and Mike Jacobs. The Marlins had not homered in three straight games previous to today’s contest.
Fish Fact of the Day
The Marlins are your MLB league leaders in home runs hit by a team – they currently have hit 103 out of the park including the two today. That is a lot of charity money raised…