Giants vs. Marlins: What Just Happened?
(originally written 6/24/13)
Let's get all the cheesy jokes out of the way: Can we throw these Marlins back into McCovey Cove? Aren't fish supposed to be the ones that stink? Did the San Francisco Giants get "schooled" or what?
With the Miami Heat winning the NBA championship on Thursday, followed by the Miami Marlins claiming three of four from the Giants over the weekend to raise their 2013 win percentage to .333, this writer is decidedly not feeling the love for that particular municipality at the moment.
Before we delve into the Giants/Marlins faceoff, let's flip the calendar back one year. The Marlins, as you may remember, fielded a pretty good ballclub in 2012—on paper. Everything was shiny and new—the park, the uniforms, the manager and many of the players. Expectations were high.
But because Miami did not have a 10-game lead by June, owner Jeffrey Loria ordered salaries dumped. Goodbye, Anibal Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez. The Marlins went on to 93 losses—goodbye, Josh Johnson, Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano and (manager) Ozzie Guillen. Hello...Ed Lucas?
Loria's justification: he was breaking up a losing team. But using his rationale, if one were to purchase a new Mercedes and watch two of its tires go flat, its fuel pump crack and its AC dry up, the proper course of action is to set off dynamite inside the car and replace it with a Datsun.
Loria's Datsun just tore through San Francisco as if Nash Bridges were in hot pursuit.
Lucas and Marcell Ozuna: These are two newbies who, prior to 2013, had never even heard of themselves. I guarantee you: Lucas would see his name in print and say, "Who?"
These two kids—well, rookies; Lucas is 31—pretty much beat the offensively challenged Giants all by themselves, with Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs in supporting roles.
Just think: If not for Hunter Pence's miracle catch and Gregor Blanco's vanishing double in the third game, Miami sweeps the series and runs an AT&T Park winning streak up to 11 games dating back to 2010—not that 10 of 11 is much easier for Giants' fans to stomach. (It still means three years have passed since the G-Men led the Marlins at home after nine innings...ouch.)
After Sunday's loss, one in which Ruggiano hit a pair of homers—double the Giants' total from the entire seven-game homestand—roster shuffling was in order. The team activated Pablo Sandoval from the DL and sent down Nick Noonan, who twice in 10 days appeared to have his first major league homer. One, however, sliced foul as it landed in the Cove, while the other was overturned upon review.
Also packing his bags: big Jean Machi. In his first 20 appearances of 2013, he was untouchable and quickly earned manager Bruce Bochy's late-inning trust.
By mid-June, Bochy either used or warmed him up practically every day, it seemed; whether or not that's to blame for Machi's recent struggles (past five games: 3.1 innings, 12 hits, six earned runs, two home runs, a 50 percent strand rate and a 1.58 increase in his season ERA) is impossible to know for sure.
What is known: George Kontos is back, his suspension for plunking Andrew McCutchen delayed on appeal.
Arizona, winner of four of five, now holds a three-game lead on the Giants, who sit just one game over .500 heading into a three-game clash at Dodger Stadium beginning Monday. They will get their first glimpse of Yasiel Puig, apparently some sort of sensation or something. The Dodgers are in last place; they've had it rough on the field as well as internally.
I would hate to see the Giants kick the Dodgers while they're down...without a big bag of popcorn handy. Go, Giants!!!