Fresh off their sweep of the Phillies on the road, the Marlins were back in town to kick off a four-game set with the Houston Astros Monday night at Land Shark Stadium, and to prove to themselves (and maybe the Nationals) that they are also capable of handling teams which are not in first place.
Brian Moehler was on the mound for the Astros, and the Marlins welcomed their old buddy back with open arms… and with an RBI from Jorge Cantu, a two-run double from John Baker and a sac fly from Cody Ross to take a four-run lead in the first. We missed you, Moehler.
Brian didn’t allow another run in his five innings of work, but the Marlins took the lead in the first, and wouldn’t give it up. (Aw crap, I just gave away the ending. My bad.)
It was Rick VandenHurk making the start for the Fish, and he also seemed to be making a very concerted effort to cram a complete game’s worth of pitches into five innings. Vandy didn’t have a bad start Monday night, but he didn’t necessarily make it look too easy through five innings against the Astros. Hurk managed to get through a shaky first without giving up a run, but he wasn’t as lucky in the second when, um, big-formidable-power-hitter Darin Erstad took him deep to put two runs on the board for Houston. With five hits, three walks, four K’s and two runs to his credit, Hurk was finished after five innings and 97 pitches.
The Marlins added three runs in the sixth inning off of Astros reliever Chris Sampson, who balked in a run with the bases loaded, and then paid for several intentional walks. Sampson put Gload on base to pitch to Chris Coghlan, who answered with an RBI single, and then decided to try his luck at the strategy again by walking Nick Johnson intentionally with Hanley Ramirez on deck. It’s not often you’ll see a team choose to walk a guy to pitch to Hanley, and he showed the Astros why when he batted in his 75th run of the season.
All eyes were on Chris Coghlan as he attempted to add on to his streak of eight consecutive multi-hit games, but while the rookie reached base three times, he only got one hit on the night. While that streak came to an end, though, the team kept their streak of double-digit hits alive for the seventh game in a row.
Headed into the ninth, the Marlins lead 8-3, and Lindstrom came in to record the final three outs of the game. Or that was the idea, anyway. Normally when a pitcher comes in to pitch the ninth with a five-run lead, it’s not considered a save situation. But I did say it was Matt Lindstrom coming in pitch, and we all know that with him, pretty much any and every situation can be considered a save (as in, he’ll probably need to be saved from the situation he gets himself into when he gives up multiple walks, hits and runs). Matty only got through 1/3 of the ninth inning, and gave up three runs–one earned. In fairness to Matt, Uggla’s error didn’t exactly help him out.
Fredi pulled Lindstrom for Leo Nunez, and Leo must have wanted to make Chris Sampson feel a little better about his rough sixth inning, so he balked in a run before recording the save for the Marlins.
The Fish have now won four straight, and are just 3 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the East. Hopefully they can keep the hot streak going Tuesday night as Chris Volstad takes the hill in the second game of the series.
Let’s gain more ground, shall we? Thanks.