After winning their first two series of the season, the Florida Marlins look to continue that success against one of their favorite opponents.
The Marlins go for their ninth straight win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday when the teams open a three-game series at Dolphin Stadium.
Florida (4-2) hasn’t lost to the Brewers (3-3) since Aug. 24, 2005, outscoring them 46-24 in eight consecutive victories. The Marlins won all seven matchups last season and have taken 23 of the last 31 meetings, including a 13-3 record at home.
The Marlins are playing the second series in a six-game stretch at Dolphin Stadium. They won two of three at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, capped by a 6-4 victory on Sunday. Backup catcher Matt Treanor hit an RBI triple for Florida and scored the go-ahead run on a suicide squeeze by left-hander Scott Olsen.
“It’s good for us,” said Olsen, who earned his second win of the season. “It’s a good start for us to get some confidence against these upper-echelon teams in the division.”
Lee Gardner certainly gained some confidence Sunday, earning his first career save after the Marlins’ new closer, Jorge Julio, loaded the bases in the ninth with one out. Julio, who has Florida’s third-highest salary at $3.6 million, has struggled in three straight appearances and has a 16.88 ERA this season, but will keep his job according to manager Fredi Gonzalez.
“We’ve got to show confidence with Julio,” said Gonzalez, who will likely give Julio Monday off. “He’s our guy, and we need him. We’ve got to get him right, and I think he can do it.”
The Marlins also need shortstop Hanley Ramirez and left fielder Josh Willingham to get healthy. Ramirez left Sunday’s win in the first inning with a stiff right hamstring and Gonzalez said he’ll be given Monday off as a precaution. Willingham was a late scratch Sunday with a stiff lower back, but said he hopes to play Monday against Milwaukee.
Willingham may get the chance to face Jeff Suppan, who will take the mound for the Brewers. Milwaukee signed him in the offseason to a four-year, $42 million contract—the largest in team history—but the right-hander lost his debut with his new squad.
Suppan allowed seven hits and two runs in seven innings of a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. He is 3-2 with a 3.04 ERA in nine career starts versus Florida, but is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his last three outings against them.
Suppan only got one run of support on Wednesday, but he’s hoping the Brewers can duplicate Sunday’s performance when they had a season-high 13 hits en route to a 9-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.
Third baseman Craig Counsell was 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and three RBIs to break out of a 1-for-10 slump and help Milwaukee snap a three-game skid.
“I had a little slow start the first couple games, but the triple in the eighth was big. It really broke the game open,” Counsell told the team’s official Web site. “After you’re up 6-0 and then they grab some momentum with four runs, it’s important to hang on to games like that.”
The Brewers hope to maintain that momentum as they open an eight-game road trip, their first of the season. They went 27-54 away from home in 2006, the third-worst road record in the majors.
Milwaukee will square off against right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers, walking five and striking out 13. Sanchez, who went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA as a rookie in 2006, didn’t receive a decision in a 7-6 loss to Washington on Wednesday as he allowed 10 hits and four runs through 5 2-3 innings.