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Although it was the lowest home attendance of the year, it was still as loud as almost any game from Sun Life Stadium at 4pm on Thursday as Heath Bell got his second save of the season.  The 5-3 win over the Chicago Cubs gave the Marlins their first series sweep of the season and improved their record to over .500 for the first time in 2012, at 7-6.

The Miami Marlins can take away a lot of positives from this series as the Marlins pretty much dominated this series from start to finish.  The Cubs scored the first run of the series, but were out scored 19-5 the rest of the way.  The Marlins were lead by some good pitching for starters Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and Ricky Nolasco, and also the offensive play of Hanley Ramirez and Emilio Bonifacio.

Josh Johnson wad unquestionable his best start of 2012 going seven innings, giving up only two runs, but also the fact that his fastball was back up to the usual 95mph.  He still gave up seven hits while only striking out three, but with him just really now starting to get back into his usual form I’d let it slid for now.  Of course it will also help JJ knowing that Mark Buehrle can have nights like he did Wednesday so he will not have to carry the Fish’s rotation.  On Wednesday night in Buehrle’s first start in front of his new home crowd he pitched eight innings giving up only one run and striking out five.  Buehrle was able to get his first win of the season while lowering his ERA to 2.66 and his WHIP to 1.16.  The Marlins pitching staff was also able to breath a sigh of relief as closer Heath Bell recorded his first two saves of the year, both of them retiring the Cubs batters in order.

On the offensive side Hanley Ramirez and Emilio Bonifacio have been on a real hot streak.  In the three games versus the Cubs Hanley went 4 for 11 with 4 runs, 5 RBI, 2 HR, and a stolen base.  Meanwhile Emilio Bonifacio was 5 for 11 with 3 run, an RBI, and 4 stolen bases.  Bonifacio has actually hit safely in every game but two and he leads MLB with 9 stolen bases already this season.  Actually the Marlins lead the major leagues in stolen bases as Reyes, Bonifacio, and Hanley have combines for 16 stolen bases.

The Marlins also got a lift from their bench in this series with Donnie Murphy playing for Infante on Wednesday, and Dobbs, Hayes, and Murphy all playing on Thursday.  Combind this series they were 4 for 13 with 2 runs and 5 RBI, including a two run home run by Murphy on Wednesday.  It can not be underestimated just how big it is that the Marlins bench continues to play will.  It allows guys to take a day off every now and then so they can stay fresh for the end of what is a long baseball season, and also if the Marlins want to make serious noise getting into and advancing in the playoffs having good play from players off the bench will a big advantage.  One only needs to look at the ’04 Red Sox and the Yankee teams that won 3 out of 4 World Series in the late 90’s to see how a good bench can make a real difference.

While the Marlins had a lot of positives to take away from this past home stand, it needs to be mentioned that the Marlins did go 5-1 versus two teams that are not even going to sniff the playoff this year.  In all likelihood the Astros and Cubs will finish in fifth and sixth place in the NL Central.  Also not everything came up roses for the fish.  Omar Infante had to miss three of those games to rest a tight groin, and Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton are still having trouble getting started this year.  In this past six game home stand Reyes went 5 for 23 and Stanton was 6 for 21, and they have combined for 3 RBI (same amount Donnie Murphy had on Wednesday).  On the season Reyes is hitting .226 and Stanton is at .261 but neither has gone yard this year either.  It is still early and both teams have time to turn it around in terms of putting up good numbers in 2012, but the Marlins will need both to be more productive if they wish to go 5-1 on their up coming road trip.

The Marlins will fly out Thursday night to prepare for a six game road trip starting in Washington to play the 10-3 Nationals.  The Marlins then will take a train, yes a train, on they’re off day on Monday and head up to New York to play the Mets.

  • Friday 7:10pm at Washington: Carlos Zambrano (0-0) vs Detwiler (1-0)
  • Saturday 1:05pm at Washinton: Anibal Sanchez (1-0) vs Stephen Strasburg (2-0)
  • Sunday 1:35pm at Washington: Josh Johnson (0-2) vs Gio Gonzalez (1-0)