Tag: Anibal Sanchez

Flying Fish

Most people who felt the NL East was anything but a two-team race as the 2008 season began thought it was the Braves that had a chance to keep pace with the Phillies and Mets. That didn’t prove to be the case. The Braves had a miserable season, finishing in fourth place and 20 games out of first.

It was the Florida Marlins that were in the thick of the race early in the season and they did more than keep pace. The Marlins led the East or had a piece of first place for 42 days in ’08 and led the division by a full three games after a win on May 11. Their record peaked at ten games above .500 — they were 30-20 on May 26. The Phils and Mets controlled the division from June on and the Fish went 54-57 after May 26 to finish the year at 84-77, which put them in third place and 7 1/2 games out.

The improvement for Florida was remarkable, however. Coming off of 71 wins in 2007, they improved their run differential by more than 100 runs. Here’s a look at the run differentials for the teams in the NL East for the past five seasons:


In 2007, the Marlins allowed 891 runs and scored 790. They allowed 101 runs more than they scored. In 2008, they allowed 767 and scored 770, so they scored three more than they allowed. That’s a difference of 104 runs, which is the second-biggest improvement from the previous year for a team in the NL East in the past five years behind what the Mets did in 2006. In 2006, the huge improvement by New York shot them past the Phils and the Braves. In 2008, the huge improvement by the Marlins shot them past the Braves but still left them short of the Phils and Mets.

With offense down across the league, the Marlins scored 20 fewer runs in 2008 than they had in 2007. The difference in their pitching was huge — Marlins hurlers were charged with just 767 runs after allowing 891 runs the year before.

In 2007, Marlins’ relievers threw to a 4.05 ERA. In 2008 they threw to a 4.06 ERA. So the massive improvement was in large part due to what the starting pitching did. And the starting pitching for the Marlins is very young. The rotation for this year is penciled in as Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller — Nolasco is the oldest of the group and he turned 26 in December. Nolasco, Johnson and Volstad were all good last year, with Nolasco making the biggest contribution as he threw 212 1/3 innings with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.10 ratio. Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller both have a good chance to be fantastic — the Fish showed dramatic improvement last year with that duo combining to throw to a 5.77 ERA and a 1.62 ratio over 159 innings. If there’s good news for the rest of the division in the Marlins rotation, it’s that Scott Olsen, who was solid for the Marlins in 33 starts last year, was dealt to the Nationals over the winter in a deal that looks like a steal for Washington. The Marlins, however, look like they have more than enough arms to make up for the loss.

While the Marlin’s green line is creeping up closer to where the Mets and Phillies are (and where the Braves had been till last season), the question has to be whether the Marlins are ready to challenge the other teams in the NL East atop the division. I think the answer is no, not yet, for two reasons.

The first is that as much as the pitching is improving, it still has a long way to go. In 2008, only five NL teams, the Braves, Reds, Rockies, Nats and Pirates, allowed more runs than Florida.

The second is that they benefited from an electric offense in 2008 and chances are good that even if the rotation continues to improve the Marlins won’t be fifth in the NL in runs scored in 2009 like they were in 2008. Mike Jacobs and Josh Willingham are gone and although neither were outstanding I would guess the Marlins will struggle to replace their production. I’d bet a lot against them having four infielders who hit at least 29 home runs again as well.

I think the thing to worry about is that there is a huge amount of young talent in Florida between all that starting pitching as well as offensive firepower that includes Hanley Ramirez, Cameron Maybin and Jeremy Hermida. That’s a whole lot of moving parts, but if they all got popping at the same time it would be a big problem for the Mets and the Phillies. I think it’s a little tough to predict that’s going to happen in 2009, though.

Finally, on what’s only a slightly related note, I feel I should remind all that the Fish are just a strange and surprising organization. In their 16 year history they have twice won the World Series, but never been closer to winning the NL East than they were in 2005 when they finished in third place, seven games behind the Braves (in 2003 and 1997, they finished second and went to the playoffs and won the World Series, but in each year they finished more than seven games out of first place). So you never know.

The Braves agreed to a one-year deal with Garret Anderson.

Charlie Manuel says something about the chances of Jason Donald and John Mayberry to make the team in this article, but I’m not quite sure I understand what it is.

The Phillies play the Pirates tomorrow. They have announced who will pitch in upcoming games.

MLB Network will be making a reality show about the Phillies bullpen which will debut in June.

Scott Eyre has had assets frozen as part of a federal investigation, which has caused financial problems for him.

Ad: TicketCity has Phillies tickets for spring training and regular season games.

Evidently where Joe is goin’ with that gun in his hand is to the showers after five innings

If Joe Blanton was supposed to be the force that stabilized the Phillies’ rotation he certainly hasn’t done that so far. The Phils won the game last night, but without much help from Blanton. The Phils gave him a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first and Blanton gave back both runs in the top of the second. The Phillies scored three more times in the bottom of the second, but ended the top of the third clinging to a 5-4 lead.

Blanton exited after five innings, leaving four frames for the bullpen to throw. Werth looked like he had blown the game open with a three-run homer in the seventh that put the Phils up four. Things got close when Romero yielded a two-run homer in the eighth — Lidge bent but didn’t break in the ninth.

Blanton hasn’t gotten an out in the seventh inning in any of his last six starts. He has gone six innings in just one of those starts while allowing 19 earned runs in 30 2/3 innings (5.58 ERA).

The Phillies beat the Florida Marlins last night, winning 8-6 to improve to 79-65 on the season. They have won three of their last four and trail the Mets by a game and a half in the NL East.

Joe Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a home run. He struck out one.

He threw a 1-2-3 first.

He started the second up 2-0. He walked Mike Jacobs and Dan Uggla back-to-back to start the inning. Josh Willingham was next and blooped a single to left, loading the bases with nobody out. John Baker flew to center for the first out. Jacobs scored to make it 2-1 and Uggla went to third. Alfredo Amezaga was next and he grounded to first, scoring Uggla to tie the game at 2-2. The pitcher Anibal Sanchez flew to right for the third out.

He walked Hanley Ramirez to start the third after the Phillies scored three in the bottom of the second to give him a 5-2 lead. He got the next two before Jacobs lined a 2-1 pitch out to right-center, cutting the lead to 5-4. Uggla flew to right for the third out.

Just an awful job by Blanton to walk the leadoff man two innings in a row.

Amezaga singled with two outs in the fourth, but Blanton got pitcher Mark Hendrickson to ground out behind him.

Ramirez started the fifth with a single, but Hermida hit into a double-play behind him. Jorge Cantu was next and singled to right, but Blanton got Jacobs to ground to first to end the frame.

Durbin started the sixth with the Phils up 5-4. He hit Willingham with a 2-2 pitch with one out. Baker was next and he hit a hard ground ball between first and second, but Howard made a nice play to field and throw to second to start a nifty double-play and set the Marlins down.

More good defense from Howard, who has been outstanding over the past couple of days.

Durbin threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

Romero started the eighth with an 8-4 lead. He walked Cantu on four pitches with one out and Cody Ross hit for Mike Jacobs. Ross got ahead 2-0 and then hit a 2-1 pitch out to left, cutting the lead to 8-6. Madson came in and struck out Uggla before Willingham doubled to left. Eyre came in to pitch to the lefty Baker and got him on a fly ball to left, leaving Willingham stranded.

With a four-run lead, Romero stays in to pitch to a righty and the righty hurts him and the Phils have to bring Madson in one batter later anyway.

Lidge started the ninth up 8-6. Amezaga led off and hit a ground ball to second. Utley fielded and tossed softly to first, nearly too softly as the throw just beat the speedy Amezaga. Lefty Dallas McPherson hit for the pitcher Joe Nelson and doubled to right. Ramirez was next and he hit a ground ball in the hole between short and third. Rollins tried to backhand the ball and didn’t field it cleanly. McPherson was going for third, so Rollins picked up the ball and threw to third. Feliz caught it, but way too far off the bag, and the tag was late. With one out and men on first and third, Wes Helms came to the plate as the go-ahead run. Lidge struck him out on three pitches. Cantu was next and Lidge struck him out in three pitches to end the game.

The pen went four innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Romero got one out, walked a hitter and gave up a two-run homer.

The Phillies lineup against righty Anibal Sanchez went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Dobbs (7) Stairs (8) Ruiz. Slumping Burrell on the bench. Werth in left and Stairs in right. Dobbs plays third against the righty with Feliz on the bench. Ruiz catches.

Rollins led off the first with a single. Victorino flew to right for the first out before Rollins stole second and took third on a throwing error by the catcher Baker. Utley singled to right and Rollins scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Howard was next and split the gap in right-center with a double. Utley scored from first and it was 2-0. Werth struck out and Dobbs grounded to third to leave him stranded.

With the game tied at 2-2, Stairs walked to start the second and went to third when Ruiz followed with a double. Blanton hit a fly ball to left for the first out. The throw home wasn’t cut off, and Ruiz did a nice job of going to third as Stairs scored to make it 3-2. Rollins singled into right and Ruiz scored (4-2). Rollins stole second before Victorino struck out for the second out. Utley drew a walk and it put men on first and second with two down for Howard. Howard singled into center and Rollins scored, extending the lead to 5-2. Werth flew to center for the third out.

1-2-3 in the third.

Rollins singled with one out in the fourth and went to second when Victorino grounded out for the second out. Rollins stole third before Utley struck out to end the inning.

Three stolen bases in the first four innings of the game for Rollins.

Howard and Werth struck out in a 1-2-3 fifth.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth. With lefty Mark Hendrickson on the mound for Florida, Bruntlett hit for Stairs. The Fish brought in righty Logan Kensing and Kensing got Bruntlett to pop to first.

With one out in the seventh, Victorino walked and Utley was hit by a pitch. Howard was next and hit a double-play ball to second. Uggla fielded and threw to Ramirez at second for the force. His throw was low and outside, though, and Utley went hard into the bag. The Fish couldn’t double up Howard and it proved to be critical. It brought Werth to the plate with two outs and he blasted the first pitch of his at-bat out to center, putting the Phils up 8-4. Andy Tracy hit for Durbin and struck out to end the inning.

Feliz walked with two outs in the eighth, but Rollins flew to left for the third out.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with an RBI and three stolen bases.

Victorino 0-for-3 with a walk.

Utley was 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.

Howard 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

Werth 1-for-4 with three RBI.

Dobbs 0-for-3.

Stairs 0-for-1 with a walk.

Ruiz 1-for-4 with a double.

Kyle Kendrick (11-8, 5.06) faces righty Chris Volstad (4-3, 3.32) tonight. The 21-year-old Volstad has appeared in 11 games for the Marlins this season, ten of which have been starts. He’s allowed just two home runs in 62 1/3 innings, both of which have been hit by righties. He started against the Phils on August 7 and allowed three hits and three walks over six shutout innings. Kendrick hasn’t gone six innings in any of his last five starts. Over those five starts he’s struck out seven in 21 2/3 innings and allowed 22 earned runs.

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