The Philadelphia Phillies went into Tuesday night looking to help widen their lead over the Florida Marlins and New York Mets in the NL East. Before any action, the Phillies led the Marlins by 2.5 games and the Mets by three.
They were entering into a crucial three game set at home against those Marlins, part of a six game home-stand that also includes a three game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Phillies were 7-3 in their last ten, and had just taken the final two games of a three game series in St. Louis against the Cardinals.
The pitching match ups have the Marlins putting three of their young pitchers on display. Game one and two showcase Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez, two young stars that made their debut two years ago and just recently came back from arm surgeries. Thursday will see young gun Chris Volstad.
The Phillies will throw out Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, and Cole Hamels to counter the young Marlins.
Moyer is 10-0 in his career against the Marlins in ten starts, with a career 3.03 ERA.
The Marlins looked determined to break through against the ageless lefty Moyer, sparked by a lead-off double on the first pitch in the top of the second. Moyer then proceeded to hit catcher John Baker with a pitch.
Moyer then coaxed a weak pop up from Alfredo Amezaga, before pitcher Josh Johnson bunted Uggla and Baker to third and second respectively. Moyer then intentionally walked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases. Moyer then walked Jeremy Hermida on a 3-2 count to plate Uggla and give the Marlins the early lead.
Moyer was not getting the calls on the corners of the plate from umpire Ron Kulpa, and as a result struggled.
In the fourth, Hanley Ramirez got on base again with an infield hit, and Moyer then hit Jeremy Hermida to put men on first and second with nobody out. Moyer struck out Jorge Cantu, but then saw Hanley Ramirez steal third. He then was driven in on a would-be inning-ending double play, but scored thanks to the hustle of Josh Willingham who beat out the throw to first to keep the inning alive.
Moyer's struggles are shown by the fact that he needed 96 pitches to get through just five innings, and only 55 strikes. However, Moyer was able to strand nine Marlins on base in his five innings.
On the other end, the Phillies were not able to get anything going off of Josh Johnson. The hard-throwing righty kept hitters off balance with his sinker, two seam fast ball, and slider, resulting in six scoreless innings, scattering five hits and four walks while striking out three.
The Marlins tacked on two more runs in the seventh, with a bases loaded, two out single by Alfredo Amezaga over the leaping Greg Dobbs.
The Phils had a rally going in the bottom of the seventh, however with one man on So Taguchi hit a line drive headed towards the gap, but Dan Uggla made a leaping grab, and then doubled up Carlos Ruiz at first.
The Phillies did get to Renyel Pinto, with a two out single by Jimmy Rollins, and then Shane Victorino hit a deep line drive down the third base line, and what appeared to be just foul past the pole was called a home run, decreasing the deficit to 4-2.
The Fish answered back in the eighth, with an RBI single by Jeremy Hermida to score Hanley Ramirez from second base to make it 5-2.
Florida did not settle at just five runs, and put up three more in the ninth on J.A. Happ courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Hanley Ramirez and a two RBI single by Jeremy Hermida.
The Marlins were able to put 22 men on base, through 13 hits, seven walks, and two hit batsmen. However, they stranded 13 in a game that could have been much uglier than it turned out to be.
The Phillies could not break through against the underrated Marlins pitching staff, and a well played defensive game from the Fish.
The Phils' offense grounded into three double plays, and mustered eight hits but just could not get anything across the plate.
After a game one loss, the Phils will look to come back strong tomorrow night.
Clearly these Fish refuse to be fried by the heat of the dog day stretch.