One pitch is all it takes sometimes.
Last Friday night, one pitch to Shane Victorino in the top of the ninth abruptly ended the Marlins hope at a victory. Again on Saturday, one pitch to a Philadelphia Phillie tied the game in the ninth. At that moment Marlins and Phillie fans had dejavue; they knew who would come out the victor in that game, and in turn, the series.
Last night, one pitch changed the game, and most likely the series, for the Florida Marlins in their debut at Citi Field.
Attempting to get ahead in the first inning for the first time in over six games, the Marlins had a runner on third and one out when Hanley Ramirez battled John Maine to a 3-2 count. The next pitch, a 94 mph fastball, road up high and inside on Ramirez, hitting him squarely in the right wrist.
With HD quality audio, fans watching on TV heard Hanley scream as if he had just been kicked in the shin; they felt his pain 1500 miles away. To Marlins fans, when trainers escorted him to the clubhouse, it was like a kick in a much more sensitive area.
Hanley Ramirez is not off to a spectacular start this season, batting just .289 with two home runs and twelve RBIs—far from statistics that made him the first overall draft pick in many fantasy leagues.
During the Marlins 11-1 start, they did it largely without the bat of Ramirez, who struggled through the first twelve games. However, as the Marlins have slumped, Hanley has been a bright spot, riding an eight game hitting streak that will remain in tact due to last night's injury.
Ramirez, much like the rest of the Marlins, has never put up stellar numbers against Maine, batting just .222 against him lifetime. The average is good enough to put him at fifth on the Marlins roster versus the righty.
It is unlikely John Maine, and the Mets vicariously, intentionally threw at Ramirez; not to put runners on the corners with one out and Jorge Cantu, .333 vs Maine, at the dish.
Nonetheless, with one pitch, the game was changed. Only one run scored that inning, followed by six New York Mets runs. Ross Gload went 0-2 replacing the All-Star shortstop and failed to produce multiple times with runners in scoring position.
Hanley, whose x-rays came back negative, says he will definitely be out of tonight's showdown against Livan Hernandez, who dealt the Marlins their first loss of the season. It is highly likely he will also sit out tomorrow, but hopes to return to the struggling lineup quickly.
With a seven game losing streak bearing over the team, they cannot afford the star's absence, who is a .357 hitter against tonight's starter. The most likely candidate to start at short tonight is Alfredo Amezaga, who is 0-3 lifetime against the Cuban born starter. The Marlins need to get their bats going early, get a strong start out of Ricky Nolasco, and have the bullpen protect a lead—a feat that is rare of late.
The struggling Mets, in third place in the N.L. East, need momentum and to win this series. With one pitch, a 3-2 fastball, high and inside, a rare pitch in that particular situation to a potent hitter, the N.Y. Mets chose to play dirty last night in an attempt to hit the ground running. With one pitch, they very well could have locked down their win-at-all cost victory.
Tonight at 7pm we find out of the Marlins will retaliate, and if they can survive without their guiding light.