Nice Start for the Fish
Over dinner in Fort Myers back in early March, a number of us were kicking around who the surprise teams were. Minnesota was mine; I liked their 1-through-5 starting pitching depth and thought that any offense anchored by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau would be good enough. This was before Mauer was hurt, of course.
One Red Sox front office member's team was the Florida Marlins. Hanley Ramirez may be the best player in baseball, after all, and the roster is filled with young, hungry players all seemingly ready to come into their own around the same time. They're loaded with live arms, speedsters and power hitters, features that were all on display yesterday.
The Fish pounded the Washington Nationals 12-6 in most impressive fashion. Ricky Nolasco went six innings and the Marlins bullpen finished the final three frames. They combined for nine strikeouts, six hits and most importantly for a Florida staff that can get a little wild, no walks. Ramirez hit his first career grand slam. Jeremy Hermida and Jorge Cantu added home runs of their own.
Also homering was Emilio Bonifacio. His was of the inside-the-park variety. In his first game with the Marlins after coming over from their Opening Day opponent - the poor Nationals - Bonifacio had a debut for the ages. He hit a thrilling inside-the-park home run, added three singles, three stolen bases and four runs scored.
One never wants to put too much stock in just one day but in looking for how to describe this Florida club after one game, I thought Cody Ross did a pretty nice job describing their appeal. He said:
''If I'm a fan and this was one of the few games I've ever seen, I'd definitely want to come back and watch the Marlins play again.''