Taylor Tankersley looked at me like I was crazy last night when–as Armando Benitez exited the bullpen to pitch the eighth–I motioned for the lefty to keep warming up. Well, perhaps Tank has been paying more attention to perfecting the art of balancing his cap on the bridge of his nose than to Benitez’ pitching, because he ignored my pleas and continued to lounge. Several pitches and a blown lead later, they got the call from someone way more important than me, and the bullpen sprang into action.
Unfortunately, the damage had been done. Another blown lead. Another Marlins loss to add to the ever-expanding list.
Armando’s response to his latest blown save? "He hit a slider. What can I do?" Well, "show the slightest twinge of regret over losing another game for the Marlins" is clearly not one of the possibilities, so I have a few alternate suggestions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO, ARMANDO:
1) Graciously concede the eighth inning to Justin Miller, a pitcher who acts as though he is at least semi-interested in his job.
2) Take on a less pivotal role in the bullpen (such as water man, gatekeeper, ball boy, sacrificial lamb).
3) Fall off the face of the Earth.
Now, it may seem I am being overly critical of Benitez, seeing as he has only officially blown three games. However, his nonchallance on the mound (and following another bitter disappointment for Fish fans) makes defending him a little difficult. And that is without mentioning his ERA of 6+ since joining the Marlins.
I don’t boo my own players, so I didn’t join in the chorus last night at Dolphin Stadium, but I am beginning to feel as though Jorge Julio would be a welcome alternative. Bear with me on this one… At least after demolishing leads every night, Julio would practically weep to the media in contrition and fretfulness over his horrendous excuse for pitching. Armando simply shrugs indifferently, expressing the same amount of emotion he likely shows upon discovering a piece of lint on his jersey, and explains that there was "nothing he could do."
Well, there’s something Fredi can do: yank his apathetic rear end from the eighth.
In Other News:
While the Marlins fell to the Rockies last night, my evening at Dolphin was not a total waste. Apparently the elected bullpen activities coordinator, Tank kept the fans in my section entertained with his "Bored Reliever Olympics," a series of games that–in my book–scored far higher than the one that took place on the field. Though the aforementioned hat-on-nose balancing act was indeed impressive, the bottle cap launching proved to be a personal favorite.
If you happen to pick up this week’s issue of USA Today’s Sports Weekly, flip to page 12 and enjoy a column on Hook, Line Drive & Sinker. Though my interview was butchered (as one expects when one is less important than the stadium peanut guy), and the "I miss Girardi" jargon was almost entirely fabricated (but necessary to evoke any interest in the article, I suppose), At least the blog url was spelled correctly. Small victories.
I haven’t the energy or desire to dissect last night’s loss to Colorado. We lost again. Olsen tanked again. I got rained on again. In lieu of a game summary, or the public airing of my post-defeat angst, here are a few things I have been mulling over in an attempt to ignore my inner misery:
Declaration of Nonattendance
The use of the word "announced" in reference to attendance was a bit confusing for me before I began going to Marlins games regularly. It only took a few rainy Tuesday night contests (against teams such as the Nationals) to give me a full understanding of the word’s journalistic necessity.
"The Marlins fell to the Rockies in front of an announced crowd of 11,534." -Some Sportswriter
Allow me to translate:
"According to the Marlins, 11,534 tickets were sold for tonight’s game. I understand their desire to believe that number to be accurate, I really do. However, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion (maybe based on the fact that I counted a total of twelve cars in the parking lot) that only 1% of those people actually used said tickets. The others likely opted to stay at home and cry in their beer in the air conditioning, rather than watch the Marlins get spanked live and in person (and in the rain) for the seventh time in eight games."
I guess "announced" just takes up less space in a column.
The Sign of the Times
"Marlins’ lack of deals signals team out of playoff contention" -South Florida Sun Sentinel
I’m not sure who is responsible for writing the headlines for sun-sentinel.com, but whoever it is may need to pay a little closer attention to the Marlins. Is the "lack of deals" really the signal that the Fish are out of contention? Because, gosh, I thought there were a few small signals well before the deadline. You know, like the fact that we lost 7 of our last 8 games. That we’re 11 1/2 games back in August. That we haven’t had a winning streak longer than four games all season. That most of our starters can’t manage to give us more than five innings. That 85% of the team is on the DL…
I suppose some people just need to see the writing in the sky. Look up, my friends.
The Power of Three
"I’ve been one pitch away." -Scott Olsen
While two outs and an 0-2 count does seem a rather favorable situation for a pitcher, it is the final strike, which signals the final out, that matters most. This fact is problematic, seeing as Scott’s mind decides to float away to its happy place (pictured) once two outs have been recorded.
Last night, for what seems like the millionth time this season, Olsen gave up a bushel of runs after getting two quick outs. He seems to be the biggest repeat offender, but Scottie isn’t the only Marlins starter who has struggled with retiring batters with two down (*cough*Willis*cough*). It’s like our pitchers decide to take a mental holiday once they complete 2/3 of an inning.
Is there some kind of therapy for this? A pill? Let’s figure it out before we end up dropping 49 of our next 50.