You know what that means?
It means no Pinchos.
Dreams everywhere.... crushed.
It should be no surprise to anyone by now that I'm a pretty big baseball fan. The complexities as to how this came to pass are rather vast, stemming from a love for the game since I was a child that I never really got to explore (LOL Mexico), my grandfather's own appreciation for the game, my watching the 2003 World Series (I still clearly remember the Steve Bartman Incident, and how it helped the Marlins to rally over the Cubs), and most recently finding the love of my life, who I can only describe as the biggest Miami sports fan in existence.
The first thing that I found the easiest to get into with her was baseball. I've always really liked baseball, I just never had the patience to sit down and watch it -- or anyone to appreciate it with. Now that I can essentially sit down with my girlfriend and watch the whole game, the tables have turned. The game has changed. Everything is /different/ if you get what I mean. Now I can obsessively watch baseball in the same way I obsessively do another large number of things, like play and watch Street Fighter, or get obsessed with a random MMO. And boy, do I obsess.
Anyways, after watching a limited amount of games in 2008, and really following the entire Marlins season in 2009 (and being present for some of the greatest moments, like Dan Uggla and Cody Ross lifting back-to-back home runs to win 3-2 against former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg, who everyone in Miami simultaneously hated for being terrible at pitching and now everyone in Miami loves for giving us free wins), I was totally ready for the 2010 season. I was expecting something similar to 2009, where the Marlins got off to a great start and then sort of flagged a bit after leaving the gates.
I wasn't expecting what I saw in Opening Day.
Josh Johnson threw a complete dud of a game. It seems to me like he was still recovering from that flu that he had late in Spring Training and we just threw him out there to do the job anyways. His control was off, pitches were way too high or way too low... Just a mediocre performance overall. It didn't help that our relievers were all apparently in the same boat, USS Let's Play Like Shit. Dan Meyer and Clay Hensley both had a throwing error to first trying to pick a man off, and Gaby Sánchez (who incidentally is the childhood friend of my friend Michael, the one designing his own RPG) had both an awesome day on offense by working the counts on Johan Santana and seeing upwards of 25 pitches in his plate appearances against him... and a completely unflattering day on defense, not stretching out for balls at first, putting in his own error at first on a throw to first base and just generally being a surprisingly inflexible first baseman (I've seen Uggla stretch farther than he has at second when he's had to pretend he's a first baseman to get to a ball). I'm sure all of this will wear off, but I don't like losing to the Mets. I definitely hate losing to them 7-1.
And then there's yesterday.
The offense put on a hell of a show. Lots of hits left and right, good performances. Cody Ross goes 4/5 for the night. Hanley, Uggla and Jorge Cantú all go yard in the same night. We're showing some great offense. Cameron Maybin finally looks more like a good batter in the two-hole. He's playing competent defense out in center field, getting better jumps on balls. Chris Coghlan plays some suspect defense tonight (a throw of his was hysterically bad), but all in all we look like a real team offensively and defensively. Wes Helms double-clutches once for a double play, but all in all the game looks pretty normal, if you only look at offense, defense and starting pitching.
Yesterday, Ricky Nolasco took the mound and generally made mincemeat of the Mets up until the middle of the seventh, where he's begun to walk people. He's been throwing massive amounts of strikes all night but he was kind of gassed in the 7th, so he got pulled for...
Renyel Pinto. Oh God, no.
Marlins fans have a huge love/hate relationship with Renyel Pinto. Usually, Pinto starts off the season by being fairly lights out, giving you a bunch of 1-2-3 innings -- or at the very least making games more uncomfortably close than they should be, but getting out of any trouble he got himself into and handing off the inning to the next reliever without too much additional trouble. His stuff is kind of mediocre and I think he just gets by on being left-handed.
I'd rather have Pat Venditte, honestly. His stuff is slightly less mediocre, and he's essentially two relievers in one (a left-handed one, AND a right-handed one). I don't care that he can't hit 90mph. I don't care that his left-handed throwing is 82 to 85mph. You can help him work on his velocity, and he already has pretty decent control even if he only has two pitches per arm. He's a two-sided reliever. He can fight out matchups. Get him, and can Pinto. If you want someone who just gets people out because he throws from a certain side of the plate, you might as well get someone who can always force a shitty matchup.
Anyways, Pinto shows us how he's relatively mediocre and hits Cora and loads up the bases, giving up a run in the process. His control is completely absent and he sucks today. Big fucking surprise. He's pulled from the game very quickly, pitching 0.0 innings but walking out with a 0.00 ERA because none of the runners on base came from him.
Next up is... Jose Veras. This is some guy we picked up in the offseason who looked great during Spring Training. He inherited all 3 of the men Pinto left on base. Very first pitch?
In some magical fucking dance of ridiculousness, John Baker runs off, gets the ball and throws it back to Veras who covers home perfectly, getting the out. Veras manages to get himself out of the rest of the jam. And that should be the end of the Marlins' troubles, right?
Veras comes in next inning and essentially refuses to throw strikes, throwing a million low pitches and throwing 25 pitches in 2/3rds of an inning, only 14 of them for strikes. He gets mauled and puts men everywhere on base, and they pull him for Leo Nuñez. Man, what a mistake that was. Nuñez balks in a run, generally sucks and lets two of Veras' runs in, blowing the save. He eventually gets himself out of trouble with a pitch that harmlessly pops up and we go into the 10th. We're tied, 6-6, because our bullpen decided that, being the strength of our team last year, they can't possibly want to repeat that feat.
I miss Brendan Donnelly. I miss Kiko Calero. I wish Brian Sanches (the Chief) wasn't hurt. I can't wait for Brian to get healthy again. It's like our team is filled right now with Luis Ayalas. I don't want any more performances reminiscent of Luis Ayala, please. Not ever again. I cursed our team by saying "we should pick up Luis Ayala, he's a free agent and I bet we can fix him" last season. I am never ever again giving my vote of confidence for a pitcher just because he's part of la raza. Luis Ayala, if you ever read this, you're not ever welcome in my house in Miami unless you bring me a refund for the tickets to every game I went to that you pitched in. The total comes around to $120. Let me know.
Wes Helms immediately reminds us why he's the man, gets himself on 1st. Coghlan bunts him over to 2nd, and then Ronny Paulino laces a single out (well, for him it's a single, Ronny is the slowest man on Earth and you can feel him running by the massive earthquakes he causes with each lumbering step) to center, Helms runs and just barely sneaks a tag in safe under the throw to the plate. Marlins are ahead again, 7-6.
And then we have here an unlikely hero story.
Tim Wood comes out. This is a kid who was about to start the season in the Minors, but Sanches got hurt and he got called up instead. I think Wood must've been half-asleep because he looked the least nervous out of any pitcher we sent up besides Ricky. He just walked out and looked like he wanted to end the night already. And boy, did he end it.
He threw 15 pitches, 10 of them for strikes. That's what I call huevos. I understand his pitches tend to unfortunately attract opposing batters way too much, but I'm glad that things worked out for him today. He even struck the last batter out, and earned himself his first major league save. And he did it with no drama, just three good outs.
After 4 hours of baseball, I can barely believe there's 159 more of these games to go. I've just barely seen two ball games and my heart is already in disarray.
Welcome back, baseball season. Welcome back, Marlins. I missed you, even if you're so abusive towards me.