For the most part, the Nick Johnson era kicked off blissfully in Miami yesterday. The Italians have a saying, you know how the day is going to be based on its morning. Well, that means Johnson will have a pretty good impact here for the Fish – his first hit was an RBI double that he got thrown out at third trying to extend it to a triple. Bit off more than he could chew? The result was that Johnson helped the Marlins get back into the game at the time – a 6 run deficit was cut in half as a result.
Johnson, by the way, got on base five times last night in the extra inning thriller which the Marlins ended up losing 9-8 to the Chicago Cubs. Not a bad debut at all considering he arrived in Miami on Friday night at midnight, was blitzed through the clubhouse on Saturday, sat for a media conference at 4pm before the game, and was in uniform for his debut that night at 7:10pm. He was actually hitting in the batting cages at PNC Park in Pittsburgh when he found out he was traded. Kind of surprised the Pirates still have batting cages at the rate they have been dealing out their assets.
The result, for the Fish, was a tough one to swallow. Burke Badenhop has been pitching well for the Marlins and got a look as a starter but he ultimately laid an egg in his start giving up 6 runs in only 1 2/3 innings pitched. The Marlins battled back several times, but Leo Nunez gave up a solo home run in the top of the 10th which proved fatal for the Fish. Still, the Marlins scored 8 runs last night and their lineup did look much better in moving runners in most situations. They battled hard and against a team that is the hottest in baseball since the all star break. If the Marlins can squeeze out a win today, it will be a successful homestand for the Fish.
Johnson is eager though. How could he not be, his former team was 28 games in back of the Phillies. Now, he has a chance to play for a team hunting for a wild car berth and a shot, albeit a long one, to capture the NL East crown. There is a lot of season still left to play and the Marlins may be making an additional move – their starting pitching still has to be shored up.