Results tagged ‘ Matt Lindstrom ’

Fish & Chirps Series Off to a Bad Start

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You are amused by the title of this post. I promise.
HLD&S would like to issue a hearty congratulations to its readers for making it through the last several days as your seventeenth-favorite Marlins blog… uh… vacationed in Maui. Now pat yourself on the back, and prepare to read the most electrifying game recap of your entire lifetime. (Or, you know, just get ready for more of the usual drivel.)

There were 19 games left in the season going into Monday night’s series opener with the Cardinals, and the Fish were well aware that every game from there on out needed to be played as though it was game seven of the World Series, if they are to have any hope of winning the Wild Card.* 

Let’s just say that if the Marlins had been playing game seven of a World Series, there would have been no champaign corks popping in their clubhouse at the end of it.
Ricky Nolasco was on the hill for the Marlins and promptly gave up four runs to the Cardinals in the first. He made some good pitches, and the Cardinals hit them. And he made some bad pitches, and the Cardinals hit those too. Ricky threw 45 pitches to get through the first two innings, but he settled down a bit, and got through three without allowing another run.
Former Fish Todd Wellemeyer didn’t fare too well against the Marlins, who scored single runs in the second and third, and followed with a four-run fourth inning to claim the lead. Coghlan tied up the game when he tripled with two men on, and Nick Johnson hit a two-run shot that gave the Fish a 6-4 advantage. 
Wellemeyer’€™s night was over after he gave up six runs on nine hits in just four innings, but in the bottom of the fourth, it was apparent Nolasco wanted nothing to do with prosperity. Ricky did away with the lead and then some as the Cardinals scored three runs on a triple by Lugo and a sac fly by Albert Pujols that put St. Louis up 7-6.
Nolasco was finished after seven runs on ten hits in five innings, and the game would come down to a battle of the bullpens. That was unfortunate, seeing as the Marlins only managed two measly hits off of five different relievers in the last five innings. And seeing as the Cardinals were treated to Matt Lindstrom in the eighth.
Matt gave up four runs on two hits and three walks in just 2/3 of an inning, including a three-run shot to Colby Rasmus that officially sealed the Marlins fate. 
With 18 games left in the season, nights like this will do nothing to help the Marlins cause. The Fish dropped game one of the series, and continue to fade like an old shirt.
Please pass the ketchup and vinegar.
*As discussed in previous entries, HLD&S has no false hopes of this actually happening, but it does make for more exciting blogging if we keep up the facade.

Gritty Win for Fish

instant grit.jpgIt was fitting that Sean West took the mound Tuesday night with the song “Hero” blaring through the stadium speakers. After a road trip that, well, sucked, a hero was just what the Marlins were in need of. Or, if you prefer to be less melodramatic about the game of baseball, at the very least the team was in need of a starter who could go more than four innings, and get through the first without giving up three or four runs. 

West wasn’t necessarily heroic as the Fish took on the Mets to kick off a ten-game homestand at The Shark, but he did have a quality night on the mound, allowing just one run on six hits and three walks through six innings. 
Nelson Figueroa wasn’t too bad himself, and gave the Marlins some trouble when he attempted to do his best impersonation of a Johan Santana start. Figueroa was filling in for Santana after the starter was scratched from the game due to elbow issues, and allowed just four hits to the Marlins through five innings. 

With the score tied up at one in the Fifth, it was Ross “True Grit” Gload who established himself as the hero of the night. West got into trouble when he loaded the bases with one out, and Jeff Francoeur hit a high pop in foul territory, which Ross Gload practically leapt over the camera well to catch. From HLD&S’s stellar view in the bullpen box, a catch didn’t even seem humanly possible, so we could only guess at what the crowd was cheering about (free frozen lemonade? The Mermaids actually dancing in sync for once? It was anybody’s guess, really) until the replay came up on the jumbotron. The defensive play seemed to magically remind Sean how to throw strikes, and he struck out Fernando Tatis on three pitches to end the threat. 
Ross Gload wasn’t quite done with the gritty heroics after his potentially game-saving catch, though. With two out and Hermida on second in the bottom of the fifth, Gload swooped in yet again to save the day, hitting a single to drive in the tie-breaking run and give the Fish a 2-1 lead. 
The Marlins had chances to add on to the score, but they, um, chose not to. After the weekend bullpen issues, a one-run lead made me feel like throwing up my insides from fear and panic wasn’t the most comfortable way to enter the final innings. But, after Sanches pitched a scoreless 7th, it was clear that Lindstrom and Nunez were not in the mood for theatrics. 1-2-3 8th and 9th innings ensued, and the Fish took game one from the Mets. 
The Marlins are 7 games behind the Phillies in the East, and remain 5 games back in the Wild Card, thanks to another Rockies win. 

The Streak Continues! (uh, for Fish, not Coghlan)

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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.

Stormy No Longer Raining on Your Parade.

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As your leading source of up-to-the-minute Fish coverage, HLD&S is the [three-thousand-and-] first to report that Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom is on the DL with an elbow sprain, and is expected to miss at least the next six weeks of the season.

Don’t panic. 

We realize that the Marlins are suddenly down one extremely satisfying target of fan fury, but relax, people. With just some minor shifting of ill will, you can be back to blasting Matt on message boards and sports talk radio call-in shows in no time. 

Simply transfer all Lindstrom-related anger from “inability to close games” to “you’ve been playing with discomfort in your elbow for a @#%!$ month, Matt?!?!” and you’re good to go.

See how that works? Malice intact. Crisis averted. However, If you don’t find it satisfying enough to rail on a player who no longer has an impact on the games at hand, we recommend you find a new player on whom to focus all your hatred. Now, if only we could think of such a player. Hmmm.

Leo Nunez is the most likely candidate to replace Lindstrom as closer, but he wasn’t available to pitch Wednesday night as the Fish took on the Orioles in game two of their series. Dan Meyer took the ball instead, and recorded his first career save with a perfect inning. 

Maybe Fish fans have just been conditioned for drama like Pavlov’s dogs, but we felt oddly let down as out number three was recorded without so much as a three-ball count or a fly ball to the warning track. Our fingernails remained intact through all three outs. Not a single expletive erupted from our throats. Our hearts did not skip a beat– not even a minor palpitation. Meyer came in and, well, closed the game. 

Three up, three down. 

Apparently Dan hasn’t read the same version of Closing 101 that our last several ninth-inning men have.

And speaking of other ninth-inning men, does anyone else find it odd that Fish closers always seem to come down with some sort of  mysterious “injury” at the most convenient times? Jorge Julio, Kevin Gregg, and now Matt Lindstrom. We’re not conspiracy theorists by any stretch, but consider our curiosity piqued. 


In other late-breaking news, the Marlins and Ricky Nolasco won game two against the Orioles, extended the team’s winning streak to four games, and are a game over .500. 

Another Stormy Night at Land Shark Stadium.

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And we aren’t talking about the weather.
When Jorge Cantu slapped a single to left to score Bonifacio in the bottom of the 12th, a 5-year-old Orioles fan scrunched up his face, threw back his head and wailed unabashedly and inconsolably, tears gushing down his little cheeks. 
If it were socially acceptable for grown adults to express their feelings in such a manner, HLD&S would have created a similar spectacle in the top of the ninth, when Matt Lindstrom obliterated a beautiful start from Andrew Miller, a grand slam from Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins’ 3-run lead.
“Stormy” recorded the first two outs in the ninth inning against the Orioles Tuesday night, then proceeded to give up two runs on four straight hits. After Lindstrom was lifted, Brian Sanches allowed a run to score, sending the game into extra innings. 
And that is the last time HLD&S will turn to our neighbor in the top of the ninth to remark on what a charmingly fast-paced game we are enjoying.
After a few scoreless innings from Burke Badenhop, and some stellar defense from the Fish, luckily–or perhaps more fitting a word would be miraculously–Bonifacio managed not to swing at four balls from Brian Bass to draw a leadoff walk in the twelfth. Emilio then took second on a wild pitch and scored on Jorge Cantu’s single, almost making us forget about all the rest of his at-bats in the game. (Almost.)
We’ll just save the whining about Lindstrom continuing to close. To say that Marlins fans are growing weary of the ninth-ining theatrics is stating the overly obvious, and anyway, who else is going to pitch the ninth? Kiko Calero is already on the DL, and Leo Nunez was taken out of the game in the eighth inning Tuesday due to an ankle sprain. Plus, given Fredi’s “stick with him” position, resistance is futile. Matt Lindstrom is the closer, and we will all continue to experience elevated blood pressure, mild strokes, panic attacks and hyperventilation in save situations until he finally learns how to get that third out, or blows enough games to be demoted from his current role. 
Incidentally, after nearly every game Brett Carroll plays, there is an intense struggle between our desire for all major news outlets to shout from the rooftops the greatness of his cannon of an arm, and the selfish desire to keep Brettley as unheralded as possible so that teams will continue to foolishly try and run on him. What to do, what to do.
The Marlins seventh win in the last ten games brings them back to .500 for the first time since May 13th. 

HLD&S EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT 

In a HLD&S exclusive, Bullpen catcher Jeffrey Urgelles was seen displaying a bit of a temper after the Fish Matt Lindstrom blew the lead in the ninth against the Orioles Tuesday night. Fans who witnessed the scene were mildly surprised, as it’s pretty rare to see a show of emotion from the Marlins bullpen. Um, but then again, it has to be extremely physically taxing trying to hold that “please enjoy my bottom, ladies” pose through extras. (We recommend Icy Hot, Urgs.)

Happy Father’s Day. Now Go Away.

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It was a pretty depressing scene at Land Shark Sunday as thousands of dejected fans filed out of the stadium after Derek Jeter grounded out to end the game. 
Oh. Wait. This is a Marlins blog. After spending three days rubbing elbows with a stadium-load of New Yorkers, listening to louder cheers for Jeter than Ramirez and hearing deafening chants of “Let’s go Yankees,” we got a little turned around there. Strike “depressing scene” from the record, please. Let’s go with “joyous event” instead. 
At least the small percentage of Dads sporting teal and black enjoyed a nice treat for Father’s Day. (Well, as nice a treat as possible, anyway, when surrounded by thousands of sore losing Yankees fans who–according to reports from the stadium– were all apparently spoiling for a fight.)

After four straight losses it appears Volstad may be back, folks. Chris went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits and earning his first win in nearly a month. And while Volstad was busy remembering how to put together a quality start, Hanley Ramirez was working on a little memory-jog of his own, at last recalling how to hit for power. Nothing says “Happy Father’s Day, Fish fans” like the first HanRam home run in 101 at-bats. 

Of course, Matt Lindstrom did his level best to make the day even more special for the Dads in attendance, giving up two runs after recording two outs in the ninth. I guess he figured one-run nail-biters are far more exciting than a ninth inning void of theatrics and multiple runs, and he wanted to help make the game as memorable as possible. Mission accomplished, Matt. And thanks, as always.
One incredibly disappointing aspect of the game for Marlins fans was CC Sabathia leaving after just 1 1/3 innings when he decided it was too hot to pitch  experienced some tightness in his bicep. We may be pushing it to complain about any aspect of a series victory over a team whose bat boys make more than the majority of the Marlins starting lineup, but seriously. First A-Rod sits two games, and now this? Come on Yankees, how often do fans get the pleasure of watching a Cy Young winner pitch against… Oh. Right. This is now a weekly occurrence for the Marlins. Never mind.
Unfortunately, according to Joe Girardi, the Marlins win is null and void due to a botched double switch in the eighth inning, which–as everyone who watched can attest–had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game. So just when you were all geared up for several more years of Yankee-free baseball, there’s a chance the two teams will have to go at it again.
While you’re protesting that, Joe, I’ll be protesting the unfairness of trying to enjoy one of the best series of the season feeling like an unwanted guest in my own home. If the Marlins do have to play the end of the game over, HLD&S votes they do it in New York. 
The real one.

Hope, You’re Up.

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HLD&S has long championed the cause of Burke H. Badenhop for starting rotation, and at last the Marlins middle reliever will get a go at it. 
Nothing says “we believe in you, Burke” like waiting until you’ve used every other possible option before giving him a chance.
With this move it has become clear that the Marlins do indeed read HLD&S before making decisions, and are finally taking our advice, giving Hopper the nod in the rubber match today against Philadelphia. OK, they’re not as much taking our advice as they’re sighing in resignation, having exhausted every other possibility but converting Matt Lindstrom or a batting helmet to starter, and are throwing up their hands in an “ok, fine, you can start” sort of manner. But we’ll take it.
While some may view Badenhop as the team’s last resort, I prefer to view Burke in more of a “saving the best for last” kind of light. (Come on, people. Before you scoff, keep in mind that being the best amongst Taylor, Koronka and Penn is not too tall an order).
Now, when HLD&S champions the cause of a player, what typically happens is that he proceeds to suck real bad, having six or more of the worst appearances of his entire life. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though, for a nice, quality five innings from The Hopper. I figure if he can give up fewer than 8 runs in two innings, he’s already doing better than our “number one” starter, so there’s that.
A couple things to look for from Badenhop today as he faces the Philths:
1) some ground ball outs
2) a super neat nickname
3) actual hopping on the mound to complement said nickname
4) the ability to lay down a bunt
5) a complete game shut out (ok, sorry. got a little carried away there.)
You’re up, Hopper. Make us look smart, please.

Rip-Out-My-Heart-And-Stomp-It-’Neath-Your-Cleats Loss #1

heartbroken09.jpgIt has taken nearly 24 hours for my blood to return to its normal temperature after last night’s heartbreaking loss to Philadelphia, but I am at last calm. (Ohhhmmmmm. Happy thoughts.) 

I’d really rather pretend the ninth inning never happened, but since I am fully aware that the entire world is sitting on the edge of its seat in anticipation of my thoughts on the agonizing blown save by Matt Lindstrom, I will go ahead and share a few. You know, since you’re twisting my arm:
  • I was right there in the thick of things, and yes, it sucked real bad.  It was horrific to watch. I was crushed. Livid. Devastated. Infuriated. There is no excuse in the world for seven runs in 2/3 of an inning. And yet I I’m not interested in railing on Matt Lindstrom right now. He was awful, he didn’t have it, and I’m sure nobody in the world feels as miserable about last night as he does (except, uh, maybe Josh Johnson). As skeptical as I may be about Lindstrom closing, last night was not normal. 
  • I’m loving the referral of last night’s win as a Phils comeback. COMEBACK??? News flash, they didn’t “come back.” They kind of just stood still, yawning, and watched as Lindstrom work supremely hard to extract the failure from them. Rookies division Little Leaguers could’ve done the same thing the Phils did with what Matty was tossing last night. So can this “triumphant comeback” crap and go buy our closer dinner.  
  • I don’t have much patience for fans nut jobs who call in to sports radio and bellow for Fredi’s head after every heartbreaking loss or three-game skid. Chillax, people. The season is 16 games old. And even if I don’t agree with every single thing Fredi does, the thing is, he gets to manage, not me. Having said that, though, I personally think his patience should have run out when Matt walked Rollins with the bases loaded to put the Phils within a run. At that point, it isn’t showing a lack of confidence in your closer by pulling him. It’s acknowledging that something is way off, and not allowing things to get any further out of hand. It’s about giving your team every chance to win. I thought it was unfair to JJ, the Marlins, the fans, and–maybe most of all–Matt Lindstrom, to leave him in the game that long. If it was about a learning experience, well, I’m almost positive he had learned plenty before giving up that grand slam to Victorino.
  • You know your pitcher is doing terribly when Renyel Pinto warming up in the bullpen seems to shine as a beacon of hope in the midst of your angst. Yeah, that means things are really, really bad.
 
  • Settle in for the long haul, people. The three words that chill Fish fans to the bone have been uttered: He’s. Our. Guy. That’s right. We’ve heard those words for the last three years– with Jorge Julio, Armando Benitez, Kevin Gregg and now Matt Lindstrom. If you’re not a Marlins fan, allow me to translate: “We will keep trotting Matt out there in every single save situation, no matter how horrendous a job he does, unless a) his life is in danger due to the hellish fury of fans, b) we realize our mistake and can find any excuse (chipped fingernail, common cold, stubbed toe) to put him on the DL and pretend his injury is the reason he’s no longer pitching, not his putridness, or c) both his arms fall off.
  • Call me crazy, but I’m almost looking forward to Lindstrom’s next save opportunity. I’m kind of intrigued to see where Matt goes from here. I mean, clearly we’ve seen his worst possible performance, so it’s all uphill now, right? (right?
HLD&S OFFICIAL POSITION: We still like you better than Gregg, Matt. Just, you know, don’t push us or anything.
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