The Marlins are in second place in the national league east and have a good, up and coming team. If they would have held onto the lead tonight, they would have pulled within one game of the team with the best record in baseball. People normally do not show up to see the Marlins based primarily on their awful stadium featuring a giant picture of Charlie Hough. A series against the Phillies upped their attendance figures to a lusty 18,504. Apparently these people would rather be watching the Miami Heat. In a close game tonight, the Marlin fans were chanting “Let’s Go Heat.” I hate the Heat.
Another pitchers duel? Ricky Nolasco and Cliff Lee took the ball from their respective teams vying to win the series. Everyone knows about Cliff Lee. He is good at baseball. Ricky Nolasco, on the other hand may not be a household name, but he has quietly become a good major league pitcher. Entering the game, Nolasco was 3-0 with an ERA in the low threes. If you pair someone who is an above average pitcher with the MASH unit that is the Phillies offense, this is not exactly a recipe for a high scoring affair.
Hanley Ramirez smashed a home run to center field in the bottom of the first and the way that the Phillies were swinging the bats early it looked like one run is all Nolasco needed for the win. The Phillies had an opportunity to tie the game when Cliff Lee hit a single off of Omar Infante following a double from Brian Schneider. Schneider rounded third only to have his body betray him. As he limped back to the dugout with a strained hamstring, Phillies fans question the creators decision to steal this many Phillies via injury.
Florida tacked on another two runs in the bottom of the sixth. This is the point in the game where my wife explained to me that swearing at the television is not a trait exhibited by a rational, well adjusted adult. Lessons on proper etiquette aside, the Phillies were on the wrong end of a 3-0 score.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Phillies managed to get a few base runners on against Nolasco. Raul Ibanez led off the inning with a double into the right field corner. Dane Sardihna reached on an error from Gaby Sanchez. Pete Orr replaced starting second baseman Wilson Valdez and smashed a double down the right field line scoring Ibanez and chasing Nolasco from the game. Sardihna plodded his way to third. Ross Gload worked a really good at bat versus Ryan Webb by hitting a ground ball to the right side allowing Sardihna to score.
Shane Victorino stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning with an opportunity to extend his hitting streak to thirteen games. He did. Shane tied the game with a bullet line drive home run just over the left field fence. He hit the home run off of one of the players acquired in the Dan Uggla trade last season. The home run may have come off Michael Dunn, but I rationalize it as a home run off of Dan Uggla. Take that Uggla.
In the top of the eighth, the Phillies shoved Kyle Kendrick out of the bullpen to scare the living shit out of us. He walked one, allowed a hit and somehow induced a inning ending double play. With the stench of averted disaster still hanging in the air, the Marlins turned to their diminutive closer Leo Nunez. The Phils pounded Nunez for three hits and two runs in his one inning of work. Pete Orr hit another double into left making him 2-2 with two doubles in the game. Jimmy Rollins got a huge two out, two run single to right to give the Phillies a 5-3 lead. Ryan Madson continued to look like a bonafide major league closer by pitching a clean inning and striking out two.
The series goes to the Phillies with Kyle Kendrick earning the win in relief. After a day off, the Phils travel to Atlanta starting Cole Hamels against Brandon Beachy. I, along with the majority of America, hope that the Miami Heat lose.