I really hate facing the Marlins, especially in Florida. I can't point to any reason why, I just get the feeling that the Braves always play flat when they visit Miami, and the Marlins always play us hard. There's just a general feeling of dread. They're pesky little ballplayers.
The Braves were 8-and-10 against them last year, with half of those losses coming from the bullpen with the help of 4 blown saves. They're more like gnats than Marlins, they just never give up. Of course, this year, that's Atlanta's M.O.
The big news around the Fish lately has been the Hanley Ramirez - Fredi Gonzalez flap. Ramirez was going after a bloop single and kicked it into the outfield, which wasn't really the problem. What Fredi took exception to was that instead of sprinting after the ball, he chased the ball down with a slow jog, all the while D-Backs baserunners were circling the bases. It was like rec league kickball.
When the inning ended, Fredi had a conversation with Hanley and took him out of the game. And this is a player who won the NL Batting title last year, and came in second in the MVP voting -- pretty much solely based on his statistical performance and not the word of Dan Uggla. Ramirez didn't take too kindly to being pulled from the game and mouthed off about it in the press... and then had to tuck his tail between his legs and apologize a couple of days later.
The Marlins have done a good Braves impression this year -- winning one game by a ton of runs, then getting shut out the next day. Florida is second only to Arizona in strikeouts in the NL this year. Those strikeouts are spread throughout the order with 6 lineup regulars possessing 30 or more strikeouts -- they are good at swinging and missing (the Braves have half the number of players with 30 or more strikeouts).
After the jump is a look at the pitching matchups for the series:
Game 1: Kenshin Kawakami vs. Anibal Sanchez, Tuesday 7:10pm
Kenshin Kawakami has not had good luck against the Marlins. He had one good outing, which was his last start of 2009, but every other time he's pitched against them, he's stunk up the joint. While he gets lots of strikeouts, he also allows lots of hits, especially hits of the extra base variety. While his last start against them is promising, it's really anyone's guess which KK will show up in Miami.
It's hard to believe that the Marlins got Sanchez from the Red Sox in the same deal that sent them Hanley Ramirez. While Ramirez has had all kinds of success on the field, Sanchez has never been able to replicate the success of his rookie year, including throwing a no-hitter in 2006. This has mainly been due to a string of injuries. Again, any pitcher who can throw no-hit stuff up there scares me right now. The Braves are still very susceptible to team-wide slumping. Like KK, Sanchez has had a mixed bag of success against Atlanta.
|2010 - Kenshin Kawakami||0-6||8||8||0||0||0||0||43.1||48||27||24||6||13||28||4.98||1.41|
|2010 - Anibal Sanchez||3-2||8||8||0||0||0||0||49.1||50||21||18||1||16||36||3.28||1.34|
Game 2: Tommy Hanson vs. Nate Robertson, Wednesday 7:10pm
We are know how Tommy has struggled lately. Beyond the dizziness that plagued him last time out, two of his previous three outings were also not pretty, as he gave up 4 and 5 runs in those two starts. Every pitcher goes through bad spells, so we'll see if Hanson can begin to emerge from his. He is capable of tossing a shutout at any time.
Nate Robertson was re-acquired by the Marlins at the end of spring training this year after the Fish had sent him to Detroit in 2003. The move to the NL has shaved about a run off of his ERA from the previous two years. The only reason the Braves should be concerned about him is that he's a left-handed pitcher. Other than that he's a soft tossing pitch-to-contact thrower.
|2010 - Tommy Hanson||3-3||9||9||1||0||0||0||51.2||51||25||24||5||15||58||4.18||1.28|
|2010 - Nate Robertson||4-4||9||9||0||0||0||0||47.1||51||29||24||5||23||25||4.56||1.56|
Game 3: Tim Hudson vs. Ricky Nolasco, Thursday 7:10pm
The glorious run of Tim Hudson looks to continue in Florida. Hudson has by far been the Braves best pitcher this year, and he's dominated the Marlins in his career. He is 8-and-2 in 15 starts with a 2.92 ERA against Florida, and he probably should have another few wins as I remember some dubious blown saves by former Braves relievers (that all seemed to happen after Hudson has pitched brilliantly).
Hudson will have his hands full against Ricky Nolasco, who has had his way with Atlanta lately. Nolasco is the definition of a no-frills starter who can occasionally throw an absolute gem of a game.
|2010 - Tim Hudson||5-1||9||9||0||0||0||0||60.1||43||14||14||4||23||26||2.09||1.09|
|2010 - Ricky Nolasco||4-3||9||9||1||0||0||0||58.0||58||30||29||9||11||41||4.50||1.19|