Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fish Face Rough Start to Second Half

As the first half of the season ended, it picked off where it started for the Marlins on one thing: the mentality of sweep or be swept. Although the scheduled four-game series was not played out completely (thanks to another rainy day in South Florida), the Phillies still took all three games that were not rained out. The saddest part of it all, the Marlins never led in any of those three games and were shut out in two of them.

On the bright side, the San Francisco Giants lost three games out of the last four games, keeping the Fish within reach of the Wild Card spot. Now the Marlins stand seven games out of the N.L. East lead and five games away from the Wild Card spot. The gap is fairly significant, but not insurmountable.

Looking forward to rest of the second half, the Marlins need to do one thing first before they look to correct their smaller issues - that is capitalize when men are on base. In the final game versus the Phillies, the Marlins were 0-12 with men in scoring position (three of those chances were with bases loaded).

The Phillies may be the defending World Series Champions and on an eight-game winning streak, but that should not be an excuse for the inconsistency displayed by the Fish in this series.

It seems like the Marlins had a minor All-Star break hangover and have not recovered from the extended rest. After the tough hit they took in the standings this weekend it should be enough water splashed on their face to wake up and get back on track.

A total of five runs in three games, all of which were scored in one extra innings game, is enough of a concern in itself for the team. It's not like the Phillies have a star-studded pitching rotation, so the reality is that Marlins dropped the ball (or one should say struck out) on plenty of opportunities in the series.

Whereas the bats were nowhere to be found and the small ball tactics nowhere to be seen, the Marlins must revert to a more offensive approach to the rest of the season. The pitching will take care of itself with solid starters (i.e. Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad) and decent relievers (i.e. Leo Nunez, Kiko Calero, Dan Meyer and Brian Sanches).

The second half will truly be a testing ground for Fredi Gonzalez and his managerial skills, not to say his job is on the line, but he must prove that he has what it takes to turn this team around through great leadership.

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