They left Washington, DC in a cloud of embarassment, frustration, and confusion. They left Philadelphia booming with confidence and sensing the urgency of the playoff push upon them – with great promise.
How can a team turn things around so quickly, so suddenly? That is baseball, and in a marathon season like this, it is a series, not a game, that can determine the success of a season.
Winning teams play winning baseball all the time. They don’t make stupid mistakes and they don’t allow themselves to beat themselves. The Marlins did just that in this series in Philadelphia as they limited the effectiveness of their hitters, allowing only 1 home run in this series. Credit must be given to the bullpen as they were able to pick up the pieces in a jagged start from rookie Sean West, who pitched admirably considering the position he was in. Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson also turned in excellent performances, giving their team the strong pitching that they need to build a win.
The offense has been much more effective, also, due in large part to the contributions of Nick Johnson, whose OBP is a whopping .571 and a .364 average in the number 2 slot. Scoring 4 runs, drawing 10 walks to his 3 strikeouts, and knocking in 4 RBIs is showing up in the week-long tenure of the former Nat’s firstbaseman. The Marlins scored 21 runs in this series with the Phillies, with 19 hits coming today in the contest against their nemesis Jamie Moyer. The Marlins seemed to figure him out today, too.
This was a crucial series. The Fish knew it, too. Now, they sit only 4 games in back of the Phillies instead of what could have been 8 games or so if they had continued the slide they were in during the Washington series. Wes Helms knew, “You’re never out of it to the end, but I think this sweep has desperately rescued us big time.” Indeed.
It was a feel good game for several reasons, too. Chris Coghlan broke the franchise record for most consecutive games with multiple hits with 8, getting past the old franchise record of 7 set by Juan Pierre (twice) in 2004 and Miguel Cabrera in 2006. Both Pierre and Coghlan, incidentally, were leading off the for their Marlins, too. It was also good to see the Marlins get by Moyer finally, but they may have sent him into the bullpen for good as Pedro Martinez is waiting for his call and may take Moyer’s spot, now.
It was also very good for the fact that umpire Ed Rapuano tossed Marlin-killer Shane Victorino in the 7th inning for whining over balls and strikes – from center field. And let’s not forget that catch by Jeremy Hermida that probably got Victorino hot.
The Marlins seemed to solidify several things coming out of this series – their offense is getting better as a result of the Nick Johnson trade. Emilio Bonifacio is actually playing better as a reserve now. The bullpen is really coming together with a collection of experienced veterans showing the younger relievers how to go about their business day to day. It seems that the Marlins are hitting their stride despite the setback of being swept by the Nationals (who are on an 8 game winning streak, by the way). Teams in their respective playoff races better take notice, the Marlins are here for the haul.