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Will the Florida Marlins’ bats be their downfall? A fan’s perspective
Chris Volstad(notes) certainly didn't have the best performance of his career on Thursday, May 19, as he pitched five innings—giving up four hits and three runs (all of them earned)—but he definitely gave his team, the Florida Marlins, a chance in the game they eventually lost 5-1 to the Chicago Cubs at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
However, if the Marlins' bats had come through and given him some run support, there's a chance this second of a two-game series with the Cubs might have turned out different.
Instead, Florida once again failed to capitalize on the Philadelphia Phillies losing 7-1 to the Colorado Rockies, which would have allowed the Marlins to move to within a half-game of the NL East Division leader before their three-game interleague series with the Tampa Bay Rays that begins Friday, May 20.
While Hanley Ramirez(notes), who has struggled mightily all season, was able to get two hits off the Cubs' Casey Coleman(notes) and raise his average to .217, Mike Stanton(notes) and leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan(notes) both struck out three times, with Coghlan going 0-for-5 on the day.
The Marlins still have one of the best records in the National League at 24-18, and are off to one of the better starts in franchise history.
That's mainly because of a greatly improved bullpen that is second in the majors in ERA, improvement with their defense, great hitting by players such as Gaby Sanchez(notes) and Logan Morrison(notes), bench contributions from players like Greg Dobbs(notes) and Emilio Bonifacio(notes), and the pitching of starters Josh Johnson(notes), Ricky Nolasco(notes), and Anibal Sanchez(notes).
Yet, if Florida and its fans hope to truly keep pace with the Phillies, or even to win the upcoming series with the Rays, its bats—all of them—need to wake up soon.
Ramirez, for most of the season, saw his average linger below .200, newly-acquired catcher John Buck(notes) is batting .233, Omar Infante(notes) is barely above him at .235, and Chris Coghlan has ridden a recent slump to a .238 season average.
Thankfully, Stanton, despite his strikeouts in the game against the Cubs, has been providing the Marlins with plenty of power of late, knocking in nine home runs and nine doubles to go along with 21 RBIs so far this season.
Nevertheless, if Ramirez, Buck, Infante, and Coghlan can't find their way out of their funks when they're in the batter's box, it might be the downfall of this young Florida squad, despite the great pitching they're getting from at least three of the hurlers in their starting rotation.
I still have confidence in this bunch. I believe before the season is over, Coghlan and Ramirez will both have averages over .300, and if that happens, and Buck and Infante can raise theirs to somewhere near .275, it'll likely mean far more run production'"and logically, wins'"for the South Florida franchise.
I can only hope those bats catch fire this weekend against Tampa Bay, as I'd love for Florida to maintain their NL-leading record in interleague play—not to mention retain bragging rights in the Sunshine State.
Anibal Sanchez goes up against Sonnanstine on Friday, May 20, in the first game of the three-game set, and I will keep my fingers crossed the Marlins can provide him with far more run support than they did Volstad.
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All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Baseball-Reference.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has rooted for all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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