Series Preview in Blog: Florida Marlins

This post is also published at Stick and Ball Guy’s site. Stop by and check out what SBG Nation has to say.

I have to tell you, I was less than impressed with the Marlins fan’s online presence, there just wasn’t much to be had. The same thing happened when we played Tampa right after the Yankees, maybe the enormous New York fan base skews my perception or something.
Wait, you say you don’t care how difficult I have it? You just want the links? Well, I think I can do that:

Minnesota Twins (36-34) @ Florida Marlins (35-38)

The Marlins are returning home after a 3-3 road trip through KC and Chicago, where they took 2 of 3 from the Sox. The Marlins have actually played much better on the road, where they are just above .500, than at home where they are 14-19. Florida has held their own in interleague play, going 8-7, although the only team they have faced with a winning record is Cleveland, who took 2 of 3 from the Marlins on their last homestand. This series they get another look at an AL team that is over .500 (although it was a bit of a struggle for the Twins to get there). The Twins started off their National League road trip by winning the final two games of their series against the New York Mets. That brought their road record to an even 16-16 on the season, and with that series victory the Twins clinched at least a .500 record in interleague play as they improved to 9-6 against the NL. That marks the 6th time in the last 7 years the Twins have been .500+ in interleague play (2005 being the only exception). The Twins are in third place in the AL Central 5.5 back of co-leaders Cleveland and Detroit. The Marlins are in fourth place in the NL East, 4.5 back of the leaders, and 2.5 back of third place Philly. They’re still close enough that
it would be premature to give up on their first ever division title.

On to the Fish:

I mentioned that the Marlins actually have a better record on the road than at home. That may be because they play in a nearly empty football stadium. People who have attended games there were not impressed. That guy thinks the Marlins don’t do a very good job of marketing their team or the experience of a Major League game. I’m sure he’s ecstatic to know that he’s got Ozzie Guillen in his corner on that point. Fortunately, you don’t have to take Ozzie’s word for it, or even the word of a blogger you’ve never met. You can see the stadium for yourself via this webcam. (Disclaimer: Having just stumbled on to this Thursday night, I haven’t seen what the view is, so if it’s a waste of your time, I apologize.) The Marlins are attempting to get legislative support for the construction of a new stadium, but so far it’s been tough sledding. The Marlins Ballpark News is dedicated to a full overview of the situation for the Marlins as well as other area teams.

Guillen actually gives his opinion on a wide range of topics (imagine that) in that interview although one of his main points is a conversation he had with Miguel Cabrera, who has drawn some media coverage due to his weight increase. In addition to that, Cabrera apparently keeps all kinds of weird stuff in his locker. I don’t know that I’d be comfortable sitting next to a locker that appears to have shrunked heads hanging in it, but I guess it’s Miami, you have to expect something bizzare to happen.

In the category of bizarre, we find the backstory to the Rally Fish. An interesting origin to be sure, I can’t wait to hear the (similarly fantastical?) story behind SBG’s rally cap.

The Marlins have struggled with injuries to their impressive stable of young pitchers. Recently, Anibal Sanchez went down for the season with shoulder issues, and two of the three pitchers Minnesota is scheduled to face are recovering from their own injuries.

We’ll get the healthy one out of the way first. On Friday Boof Bonser pitches against Scott Olsen. Olsen has a 4.89 ERA, but he has been a little bit unlucky in that regard. In his last 5 starts, he has given up 0.32 HR/9 while striking out 7.7 per nine. Where he’s been hurt is the free passes (4.2 BB/9), but still his FIP over those 5 starts is 3.35, compared to his ERA of 5.19. Olsen has been healthy, but he has had several incidents with teammates and fans which have given him the label of being a hothead.

Josh Johnson makes the start for Florida on Saturday against Carlos Silva. This will be only his second start of the year after he missed the first few months of the season due to ulnar nerve irritation in his right biceps. While on a rehab assignment, Johnson observed the tradition of buying his teammates dinner. The Marlins have had so many pitchers injured that the Jupiter Hammerheads (Class A) are living the good life. In his one previous start, Johnson allowed 8 runs to the potent White Sox lineup, but only 4 were earned as he worked 3.2 innings.

Dontrelle Willis hasn’t gone on the disabled list … yet. What started as tightness in his arm became a significant problem in his last start against the White Sox, which was as ineffective as it was short (4 ER, 1 IP). As a result of this injury, it’s not certain that Willis will get the ball against Johan Santana on Sunday. Rather, it could be Byung-Hyun Kim who gets the spot start. So we will just have to wait and see. If I had to guess, I would say that he starts because he’s built up some good karma by aiding those in need.

Marlins Trivia: The Marlins came into existence in 1993, and have not lost a post-season series since then, capturing 2 World Series titles and going 6-0 in post-season series. Including the Marlins, there are 5 teams whose last post-season appearance resulted in a World Series championship. Can you name them?

Finally, sometimes baseball can seem like such a simple game.

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