Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Game of the Day (7/1/14)

Marlins 5, Phillies 4. Miami's Henderson Alvarez took on Philly's AJ Burnett in a matchup of two of the five pitchers who have thrown no-hitters for the Marlins. (Yes, the Marlins have thrown five no-hitters in 22 years - and had two more thrown against them, for that matter.)

The Phils took the lead in the first on a Jimmy Rollins double and a Chase Utley RBI single. Miami got a leadoff single from Christian Yelich in the bottom of the inning, but left him on, and each team squandered a single from a young outfielder in the second as well (Domonic Brown and Marcell Ozuna, respectively). Utley reached on an error in the third, and nobody else on either team reached on anything during the inning.

In the top of the fourth, singles by Marlon Byrd and Brown were sandwiched around a groundout in such a way as to allow Byrd to score. The bottom of the inning saw the Marlins load the bases on a Giancarlo Stanton walk, a Casey McGehee single, and an Ozuna walk; Jarrod Saltalamacchia then singled in a pair of runs to tie the game. Alvarez was perfect in the top of the fifth, and his teammates gave him their first lead in the bottom of the inning when Yelich singled, stole second, and scored on a hit by Stanton. A walk, a passed ball, and a wild pitch then allowed Stanton to come the rest of the way around, making it a 4-2 Miami advantage.

Alvarez allowed a Byrd walk and a Cody Asche single in the sixth, but stranded both of them; Burnett walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the inning, then struck out the side. Alvarez surrendered a hit to Ben Revere in the seventh, but nothing else. Ken Giles relieved Burnett in the seventh and yielded only a hit to Stanton.

Kevin Gregg took the mound for Miami in the eighth and quickly retired the first two Phillies he faced. He had rather less success against the next two, as Byrd and Asche hit consecutive homers to tie the game at 4. Jake Diekman countered a walk with a double play in the bottom of the eighth, and Steve Cishek was spotless in the top of the ninth. Antonio Bastardo then worked a lively bottom of the inning, walking Stanton with two outs, then throwing a pair of wild pitches that moved the winning run to third. Bastardo finally managed to strike out Garret Jones to force extras.

Bryan Morris and Justin De Fratus were both perfect in the tenth, and Morris kept the bases empty in the eleventh as well. Jeff Baker hit for Morris to start the bottom of the eleventh and singled, Yelich bunted him to second, and Ed Lucas then singled to score him with the winning run.

Giancarlo Stanton is currently leading the NL in both homers and RBI (21 and 61, respectively). However, in his last 12 games, he has driven in a mere four runs and produced only one longball.

Slump, right? Not so much. Stanton has had multiple hits in 7 of those 12 games, hitting .422/.527/.578 over the stretch. He's scored eight runs, drawn eight walks, hit four doubles, been hit by two pitches, and stolen two bases. And in this game, although he was not involved in the final rally, he had two hits and a walk, advanced four bases on wild pitches or passed balls, scored two runs and drove in another in a game that the Marlins won by a single run.

For everyone who was waiting the last few years for Stanton to emerge as one of the best players in baseball... the wait appears to be over.

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