Friday, May 7, 2010

Marlins Swept, Look to Bounce Back

May 7, 2010

The surging San Francisco Giants came to Miami and handed the Florida Marlins their first sweep of the season, putting them four games behind the division lead. Fate was not on their side when the Marlins survived Tim Lincecum pitching onslaught yet still lost the first game of the series in extra innings. The Marlins now find themselves with a record of 13-15 heading into a six-game road trip versus the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.

The Fish allowed a total of 18 runs in the three-game series versus the Giants and struggled with consistent pitching from both the starting rotation and bullpen. Anibal Sanchez posted a solid outing on Tuesday as he only gave up two earned runs and five hits in six innings. However, relievers Chris Leroux and Burk Badenhop allowed two and three earned runs, respectively, in their outings during the series-opener. Game two displayed better pitching performances by the Marlins, but a lack of offensive production against Gaints' starter Barry Zito, who became 5-0 after Wednesday's game. Lastly, Thursday's game was similar to the opener as starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco allowed three earned runs, but was followed by another poor Leroux performance (2 ER).

In essence, the Giants dominated the Marlins in frustrating fashion for Fish fans. At this point of the season, San Francisco is the better team and proved that with a convincing sweep. The Giants have now won seven of their last 10 games, while the Marlins are 3-7 in that stretch.

But the Marlins can immediately bounce back in the standings with a series win, or sweep, of the Nationals starting tonight. Florida is two games behind Washington in the N.L. East and could retake the third spot in the division by the end of the series. Chris Volstad, Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez are set as the probable starters for the series, all of which have had decent performances in recent starts. On the contrary, the Nationals will counter with a lackluster group of starters in Craig Stammen, John Lannan and a third pitcher to be determined later. Stammen and Lannan currently hold ERAs above six, while Volstad holds the highest ERA of the Marlins triad with 4.45.

The Marlins have not necessarily gone on a formidable win streak this season, but will quickly refocus their attention to bouncing back before the division leads becomes out of reach. Expect stellar starts by the Marlins starters and an improved bullpen in the nation's capital. The bats will likely show up against a mediocre Nationals pitching staff. Last series between the Marlins and Nationals, Florida drove in 17 runs in three games. It's Washington's bats that the Marlins will need to worry about, as third baseman Ryan Zimmerman blasted two homers in the opening game of the last series.

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