31 May 2012
The Marlins sweep of the first place Washington Nationals seems like a fitting end to what had been a historic months for the Miami Marlins. After a disappointing April in which they went 8-14, the Marlins set a team record with 21 win in the month of May. The Marlins went 21-8 in the month, a month where they only had 2 days off including today, and now find themselves at 29-22; just a half a game behind the Nationals in the NL East and 3.5 games behind the Dodgers for the best record in baseball.
It is actually hard to believe that the could be as successful as they were when you factor in Austin Kearns and Emilio Bonifacio getting put on the DL, Gaby Sanchez getting sent down to AAA, Infante missing a few games, a significant drop off in productivity from Logan Morrison (batted .310 in April and .176 in May), and the fact that the team played 29 games in 30 days. However for everything that could have gone wrong a lot went right. Outside of a couple poor starts from Ricky Nolasco before the got career win number 69 (Marlins team record), the Marlins starting pitching continues to be outstanding. Zambrano, Anibal, and Bolasco all had ERA's under 3.20 and Josh Johnson although he had a 4.41 ERA for the month he really started to turn things around in his last four starts. Even Heath Bell who had a rocky month with a blown save and needing to be pulled twice in the ninth against San Francisco despite inheriting a three run each game. Bell was still a lot better in May than June with 8 saves and 2 win, including a save in each game of the teams sweep of the Nationals.
The Marlins really did struggle from the plate in April and at times again in May, but many of the Marlins saw significant spikes in their batting averages this month. In the month of May Hanley Ramirez batted .322, Jose Reyes hit .297, and before he got hurt Austin Kearns hit .519 in 27 plate appearance. The biggest most important improvements were by Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez as Reyes raised his average from .220 to .265 and Hanley raised his average from .207 to .275. Of course for Hanley Ramerez one of the best things that could have happened was the 10 game home stand because right now Hanley is only hitting .182 on the road and .366 at home. If the Marlins wish to be successful they need these two to be successful. Also it needs to be mentioned that Omar Infante continues to have a outstanding season. While his power numbers dipped in May, Infante continued to stay hot hitting .314 after batting .323 in April.
However the biggest story of the month had to be Giancarlo Stanton and what he did from the plate. Just like the Marlins, Stanton had a disappointing April in which he just hit one home run, but he caught fire when the calender turned to May. This month Stanton tied the Marlins record for home runs in May with 12 and the record for RBI in a month with 30. However maybe the most surprising thing is Stanton, who most people believe to be a .260-.275 batter, hit .343 in May and lifted his 2012 batting average to .304. With out a doubt the highlight of the month and possible could be the highlight of the year was the grand slam Stanton hit off of Jamie Moyer that hit the scoreboard in left field and temporarily knocked out several light panels.
The Marlins now head into June a month last year that for all intensive purposes ended their season. They went 5-23 last year, a record so bad it would be hard to duplicate even if the Marlins tried. More likely the Marlins after a disappointing April and amazing May will fall somewhere right in the middle this year. With 26 games against teams like Tampa (6 games), Boston (6 games), Philadelphia (5 games), Toronto, St. Louis, and Atlanta the Marlins will not have an easy path ahead.
The Marlins now travel to Philadelphia for a three game series versus the hobbled Phillies starting on Friday.
- Friday at 7:05 in Philadelphia: Mark Buehrle (5-4) vs Kyle Kendrick (1-4)
- Saturday at 4:05 in Philadelphia: Ricky Nolasco (5-3) vs Cole Hamels (8-1)
- Sunday at 1:35 in Philadelphia: Carlos Zambrano (3-3) vs Joe Blanton (4-5)
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