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Hanley Ramirez needs to heat up for Marlins: A fan’s take
Hats off to James Shields(notes) and the Tampa Bay Rays as they avoided a sweep in the three-game "Citrus Series" against the Florida Marlins on Sunday, May 22 with a commanding 4-0 shutout victory that included Shields pitching a complete game, giving up just three hits and a walk, and striking out a career-high 13 batters to go 5-2 on the season and lower his ERA to 2.00.
There's no denying I wanted Florida to win the final game of the three-game set at Sun Life Stadium, but I had a distinct feeling it just wasn't the Marlins' day when it was announced on Saturday, May 21 that Josh Johnson(notes), who was scheduled to face-off against Shields, had been placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Yet, even with rookie right-hander Jay Buente(notes) being called up from the Marlins' AAA-affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs to take Johnson's place on Sunday, I still had hope Florida's bats could somehow provide enough run support to overcome the mismatch.
After all, they scored five runs in both of the previous games of the series, giving the Marlins a 5-3 victory over the Rays on Friday, May 20, largely in part because of Mike Stanton's(notes) 10th home run of the season and Logan Morrison's(notes) continued blistering performance at the plate, and another 5-3 win on Saturday, May 21 that saw Omar Infante(notes) and Hanley Ramirez(notes) hit solo blasts in support of Javier Vazquez's(notes) best outing of the year.
However, Shields wasn't having it, and mowed down the Marlins hitters like he was making a bid for the Cy Young Award with this one game.
Thankfully, the Los Angeles Angels were able to rough up Tim Hudson(notes) and the Atlanta Braves 9-0 and prevent them from gaining any ground on the Marlins as they remain two games behind Florida and 3 1/2 games behind Philadelphia after losing the series against the boys from the City of Angels 2-1 over the weekend.
However, if the Marlins hope to be a real force in the NL East Division, they are going to have to find a way to come through in these situations. With Johnson likely to miss at least two starts, every other pitcher in the starting rotation is going to have to seriously pick up their game and come out with a purpose, beginning Tuesday, May 24 against the Giants in San Francisco (a game I hope to attend).
That start is likely to fall to Ricky Nolasco(notes), and Florida cannot afford for him to have a game like he did against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, May 18, as he gave up nine hits and five runs (four of them earned) over six innings in a 7-5 loss for the Marlins.
Unlike the 20-25 Cubs, the 27-19 Giants boast a lineup that will positively make a pitcher pay if he's not pitching at the top of his game. I don't think I have to tell Florida fans about Cody Ross(notes) and the damage he can do, and beyond him they have Freddy Sanchez(notes) and Buster Posey(notes)—two very imposing batters.
About the only thing I can see going well for the Marlins is the fact there's a chance they may not face two-time Cy Young Award-winner Tim Lincecum(notes) in the three-game set in the City by the Bay.
Yet, if the Giants, who have won five straight, elect to keep their rotation completely on schedule and send Madison Bumgarner(notes) to the mound on Tuesday, rather than Jonathan Sanchez(notes), then Florida will be seeing the diminutive flame-thrower Lincecum in the final game of the series and he'll be going up against a much less accomplished starter in Chris Volstad(notes).
Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost confidence the Marlins can come out of this series with a sweep of San Francisco if they play their best ball. I think they have the pitchers, and especially the hitters to dominate the boys from the Bay Area if they're on their game.
However, having Ramirez continue to show he's finally coming out of his season-long slump, rather than the 0-for-4 performance he had in the game on Sunday against the Rays is a must.
Gaby Sanchez(notes), and to a lesser degree Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton, have been carrying the Florida Marlins in terms of their hitting so far this young season, and that has to begin to change. Ramirez is the one being paid the big bucks, and he needs to start earning them; right now.
Here's looking forward to seeing these great players in person. I'll be sure to give a shout out to Hanley if I get a chance and tell him I wanna see some better hitting.
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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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