The Miami Marlins knew what they were getting in “trading” for White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen at the end of last season.
The outspoken Guillen would help draw fans and attention as well as be the Hispanic face of a team that must have the support of South Florida’s huge Cuban and Latin American communities to keep a competitive payroll and that new Marlins Park full.
Well, things aren’t off to a great start.
Guillen was suspended five games on Tuesday for comments he made about former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Guillen inflamed the Cuban community when he told Time magazine for an article published last week that he loves Castro and respects him for staying in power for so long.
The manager apologized repeatedly to the Cuban and Latin American communities in a statement before a press conference Tuesday morning at Marlins Park. Guillen had flown back from Philadelphia as the Marlins had an off day during their series with the Phillies.
"I feel like I betrayed my Latin community," Guillen said. "I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands and I want to say I'm sorry to all those people who are hurt indirectly or directly."
Guillen said his comments to Time were made in Spanish and their meaning lost in the translation to English. But, he said: "I don't want to make any excuses."
Outside the stadium, protesters waived Cuban flags and held signs calling for Guillen's resignation. Look for major protests and demonstrations when the Marlins return home to face the Houston Astros on Friday—their first home game since an Opening Night loss to the Cardinals. The Marlins wanted Guillen back Tuesday to try and help lower the temperature of the inevitable Friday demonstrations.
Wednesday night’s game is an ESPN national telecast (7:05 p.m. ET) and there will be live betting at books like Bovada that offer it.
Marlins at Phillies Betting Story Lines
The question is: Will the Guillen firestorm affect the players on the field?
It sure didn’t on Monday night as Miami (2-3) beat the Phillies 6-2 in their home opener thanks to strong pitching from Anibal Sanchez and two solo homers by Omar Infante. Philadelphia remains the 6/1 Bovada favorite to win the World Series and 9/4 favorite to capture the NL pennant, but they have scored eight runs, are hitting .198 and off to a 1-3 start. The Phillies also have had their leadoff hitter reach base just six times in 37 innings.
That offense desperately misses second baseman Chase Utley (return unknown) and first baseman Ryan Howard (likely out until June, at least). Utley’s replacement, Freddy Galvis, is hitting .077, and the Philly first basemen are 2-for-16 with no homers or RBI.
The Phils have just four extra-base hits so far (three doubles, one homer), their fewest through four games since 1990, when they finished 77-85 and 22nd out of 26 teams in scoring. And it’s their fewest runs scored through four games since 1997, when they finished 68-94 and 26th out of 28 teams in scoring.
It’s not clear if young Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton will play Wednesday. He was scratched about 40 minutes before Monday’s game with a sore knee that had bothered him this spring. Guillen didn't rule out Stanton being available on Wednesday as he is officially listed as day-to-day. The off day should help him in that regard.
Stanton, Miami's cleanup hitter, is off to a 4-for-17 (.235) start with a double and three RBI. Austin Kearns replaced Stanton in right field and homered in the ninth inning Monday.
Marlins left fielder Logan Morrison got Monday off but it was just a rest day due to his knee surgery this winter. He should be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Marlins at Phillies Probable Starting Pitchers
It’s a great matchup of two of the NL’s top right-handers as the Phillies’ Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.00) opposes Miami’s Josh Johnson (0-1, 4.50).
Halladay actually wasn’t great this spring but looked like his two-time Cy Young self in last Thursday's 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh at PNC Park. He allowed just two hits and struck out five in eight scoreless innings.
“Doc” started three times against the Marlins last year, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21 innings. He is 4-3 in his career against the Marlins, including a perfect game in 2010. Halladay was 8-3 with a 2.48 ERA at home in 2011.
Johnson was a bit off in the opener against the Cardinals, allowing three runs on a career-high-tying 10 hits in six innings. He struck out just four as his control was somewhat lacking.
Johnson started once against the Phils last year and got a no-decision despite allowing just one run on six hits and striking out seven over seven innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA in his career vs. Philadelphia.
Marlins at Phillies Betting Odds and Trends
The Phillies opened as -155 favorites with the total at 6.5 on MLB odds. Miami is 4-1 in Johnson’s past five road starts against the Phillies. However, Florida has won just two of its past nine at Citizens Bank Park. Dating to last year, Philadelphia is 1-9 in its past 10 home games and 2-10 in its past 12 games after a loss. The Phillies are 7-0 in Halladay’s past seven home starts against teams with a losing record.
MLB Picks: Marlins at Phillies Betting Predictions
Without the left-handed hitting Utley and Howard, the Phils are going to have problems against power right-handers like Johnson. In fact, the Phillies are just 1-6 in their past seven games against a righty dating to last year.
It’s hard to go against Halladay, but Johnson at +145 represents more value because if he’s on he is more unhittable than Halladay. And I don’t think the Phillies are ready to hit yet. So take Miami and the ‘under’ as the Fish win one for Ozzie.
For more MLB odds and information, visit out Doc's Sports.