The Monday Takeaway
For the four weeks spanning May 28 through June 22, it seemed that Marlins closer Heath Bell had shed his early-season malaise. During that time, Bell made 10 consecutive scoreless appearances, struck out 16 batters in 9 1/3 innings, and trimmed his ERA from 8.00 to 5.47. His three-year, $27 million contract he signed in early December wasn't looking quite as bad for the Fish.
After last night’s extra-inning loss to the Cardinals, though, it’s back to square one—not just for Bell, but also for the organization as a whole.
The first-year closer entered with the Marlins leading 6-2 in the top of the ninth, and though the Redbirds had plated a run in each of the previous two frames, the game still seemed safely in hand. In fact, Ozzie Guillen may simply have wanted to get the 34-year-old Bell some work, considering that he had pitched only once in the previous eight days. Bell immediately looked rusty, issuing a leadoff walk to Rafael Furcal, and it was all downhill from there.
Shane Robinson struck out, but Matt Holliday drove one into the opposite-field gap for a double. Then, Carlos Beltran singled, Allen Craig hit a sacrifice fly, and Yadier Molina pounded the final nail with a two-run shot that tied the game at 6-6. Bell was not charged with the loss, but it was his meltdown that enabled the visitors to capture the series opener, 8-7, in the 10th.
The loss dropped the Marlins to 34-39—just two games better than their 32-41 mark through 73 games in 2011—and left them alone in the NL East cellar as the Phillies topped the Pirates, 8-3. Manager Edwin Rodriguez resigned after the team’s 32-39 start a year ago, and, though Guillen is not on the hot seat, last place is not what owner Jeffrey Loria and President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest had in mind following their offseason spending spree.
What to Watch for on Tuesday
It’s BP intern Hudson Belinsky’s favorite day of the season, as (Daniel) Hudson meets (Tim) Hudson in the series opener between the Diamondbacks and the Braves at Turner Field. The former Hudson has befuddled just about everyone with his three most recent outings, holding the powerful Rangers to three runs in seven innings on June 14 but getting shelled by the A’s and Mariners in the starts immediately before and after that win. The latter Hudson is 6-0 with a 1.36 ERA in eight career starts against Arizona (7:10 p.m. ET).
When the Padres inked Cameron Maybin to a five-year, $25 million extension in March, they thought they were locking up one of the most dynamic young players in the game. Unfortunately, the 25-year-old has been anything but dynamic so far in 2012, logging a .204/.284/.298 triple slash with 56 strikeouts in 245 at-bats. Maybin hasn't produced an extra-base hit since June 8, and he’ll try to end that skid against Astros starter Jordan Lyles—who has coughed up 12 XBH in 44 2/3 innings—tonight (8:05 p.m. ET).
Keeping the ball in the yard has been a problem for Gavin Floyd this season, and the 15 home runs he has served up in 83 innings of work have bloated his ERA to 5.20 despite a significant uptick in strikeouts. Floyd has struggled against the Twins throughout his career, going 4-11 with a 6.29 ERA and allowing 16 homers in 97 1/3 frames over 16 starts. The main culprits are Denard Span (15-for-29) and Joe Mauer (17-for-39 with eight walks), who will look to provide Liam Hendriks with the support he needs to earn his first career win (8:10 p.m. ET).
- Ryan Vogelsong has not failed to complete the sixth inning in any of his 13 starts this year, but his last outing with fewer than 18 outs came against the Dodgers on Sept. 21, 2011, and he’ll face Don Mattingly’s squad for the second time since then tonight. Los Angeles will counter with Clayton Kershaw, who will try to keep San Francisco from climbing to within a game of the NL West lead (10:15 p.m. ET).