Every baseball team on the east coast makes a yearly pilgrimage to the warm shores of Florida to escape from the brutal winters and have spring training. People will drive down to Florida to see their favorite teams play meaningless baseball in various states of comprehensiveness just for a taste of baseball. The funny part about Florida is that no one shows up to watch the teams that actually make the state their home. The Florida Marlins even have two world series championships and people in the state do not give a shit.
Anibal Sanchez took the hill for the Marlins today, much to the indifference of the state of Florida. Sanchez has failed to fulfill the promise sparked by his 95+ MPH fastball and his great rookie season. He came into the game with a 6.97 ERA and an 0-1 record and has historically been shelled by the Phillies.
For the second straight game the Phils scored two runs in the bottom of the first against a sub-standard pitcher and failed to deliver a knockout punch when they had the opportunity. Placido Polanco homered and Raul Ibanez added an RBI single. Sanchez ended up lasting six innings and striking out eight, pitching five shut out innings following his poor first inning.
Luckily for the Phils, Cole Hamels has shaken off a tough start against the Mets with two straight appearances in which he looked dominant. Cole worked out of trouble in the top of the fourth and mitigated the damage in the top of the sixth allowing a pair of runs to keep the score tied. Philly fan favorite Logan Morrison knocked in the tying run with a sacrifice fly scoring Mike Stanton who knocked in the Marlin’s other run with a broken bat single earlier in the inning. It is always nice to see Hamels keep his composure in these types of situations after watching some of his shenanigans from 2009. As we see with all the other aces that these team has, how a pitcher responds when met with adversity is how you can tell that he is an ace. Hamels is pitching like an ace. Hamels had a final line of seven innings pitched with seven strikeouts, two walks, seven hits and two earned runs lowering his earned run average to 4.32.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the eighth inning. Sanchez had given way to hard throwing righty Mark Webb who came to Florida from San Diego in the Cameron Maybin trade. The Marlins employed a no doubles defense in which the outfielders were about three steps from the outfield wall. Ryan Howard hit a ball to shallow left field and Logan Morrison further imbued himself in the Philly fan’s good graces by booting the ball after a way too long run due to his defensive alignment. Ben Fransisco singled through the entire left side of the infield and Howard advanced to third on an ground-out from Raul Ibanez. Carlos Ruiz came to the plate and promptly hit a SAC fly, putting the Phils ahead and proving why people like him so much.
Jose Contreras doesn’t give two shits about base-runners. He proved this by walking two in the top of the ninth and working through the jam to earn his third save in as many chances this season. Personally, I feel more comfortable with Jose than I did with Lidge. I hate to beat the “Cuban defectors are awesome” horse in every post, but Jose Contreras forced me to do it by preserving the 3-2 Phils victory and generally being awesome.
Stars of the game were Cole Hamles, the wind that aided the Logan Morrison error and Placido Polanco who went 3-4 with his first homer of the year.
Tomorrow the Phillies send out Joe Blanton in an attempt to get the right hander back on track against the Milwaukee Brewers and offseason acquisition Shaun Marcum.