Led by a first-time manager, the Florida Marlins got off to a fast start in their first series of the season. With a veteran skipper at the helm, the Phillies once again did not.
The Marlins try to continue their strong start when they open their home schedule against the winless Phillies on Friday night.
“On opening day, if you don’t get chills whether it’s on the road or home, you’re in the wrong sport,” new Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’s what it’s all about. The flyovers, all kinds of special things going. It’s just a fun day.”
Gonzalez took over for Joe Girardi, who was fired despite keeping Florida in the playoff mix until the final month last season.
The Marlins got off to a horrible start at Dolphin Stadium in 2006, losing 13 of its first 15 home games, but finished 42-39 there.
Florida (2-1) took the first two games against Washington to open the season, but couldn’t complete the sweep with a 7-6 loss on Wednesday. The Marlins had a 5-0 lead through three innings and still led 6-4 going into the ninth, but newly acquired closer Jorge Julio gave up three runs and five hits while retiring one batter.
Despite the loss, Florida began the season with a series win for the first time since 2004.
Miguel Cabrera batted .355 and hit 15 of his 26 homers last season at home. He got off to a tremendous start at the normally pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium— Cabrera hit his second homer Wednesday, and has seven hits in 10 at-bats with six RBIs this season.
The three-time All-Star third baseman, though, has struggled in his career against Friday’s starter Jamie Moyer, getting just one hit in seven career at-bats.
Moyer went 5-2 with a 4.03 ERA in eight starts for the Phillies last season after being acquired from Seattle in August. He was 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three September starts against Florida.
The 44-year-old left-hander had an encouraging spring, allowing 10 earned runs in 26 1-3 innings over six starts, while striking out 22.
Philadelphia’s 8-4 loss to Atlanta on Thursday capped a three-game sweep for the Braves, and an all-too-familiar start for the Phillies.
Philadelphia (0-3) was swept by St. Louis in a season-opening three-game series at home last year, and ended up falling three games short of a wild-card berth.
“We’ll be OK,” said manager Charlie Manuel, who’s led Philadelphia to two straight second-place finishes coming into 2007. “It’s just a matter of us putting a good game together.”
Ryan Howard’s struggles at the plate continued on Thursday, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. After hitting 58 homers last season en route to the NL MVP award, Howard is 2-for-11 with no extra-base hits this season.
Howard has a good chance to hit his first homer of 2007 when he faces Florida starter Sergio Mitre in the opener. Howard’s two hits in his only career at-bats against the right-hander were homers.
Mitre was the Florida’s No. 2 starter last season, but missed most of the year with right shoulder inflammation and finished 1-5 with a 5.71 ERA in 15 appearances. Mitre gave up four runs in six innings in a 4-2 loss to the Phillies last April 23, his only career start against them.
Mitre had an outstanding spring, though, allowing just one earned run and nine hits in 14 innings over four starts.
Philadelphia won 13 of 19 games against Florida last season, and went 6-3 at Dolphin Stadium.