MIAMI (AP)—Jorge Cantu and Ronny Paulino homered, and the Marlins continued their potent pace at the plate in a 9-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night.
Sean West (4-4) allowed one run and five hits in six innings, and relievers Brian Sanches and Chris Leroux combined to give the Marlins their sixth win in the last seven games.
Florida remains 4 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East, and three behind Colorado in the wild card. The Rockies begin a three-game series at Florida on Friday.
Now that’s more like it. Many of us were worried about Sean West starting tonight’s game but he put that rather quickly when he retired the side in the first inning on 8 pitches including a 3 pitch strikeout of Lance Berkman. He retired the first 8 hitters until 5-time Silver Slugger winner Mike Hampton hit a ground ball single up the middle in the 3rd. In the end West only gave up 1 run on 5 hits and struck out 3 in 6 innings of work. More importantly, he didn’t walk a single batter. He threw 67% strikes and was only in a 3-ball count 3 times all night. He truly had a great start. He probably could have worked the 7th inning but had to be lifted for a pinch hitter when his spot came up in a key situation.
On offense, we came strong again tonight. The Marlins added on to their franchise record, getting more than 10 hits in 10 straight games. They scored early, getting Jorge Cantu hitting a 2-run homers in the 1st inning. Hampton kept them to that until Ronny Paulino hit a solo homer in the 5th to put the Fish up 3-1. In the 6th inning the Marlins did their business off Astros reliever Chris Sampson, who was replacing a once again injured Hampton. Wes Helms hit an RBI double to put the Fish up 4-1. Two batter’s later Fredi made the move, replacing a dealing Sean West with the pinch hitting prowess Ross Gload. Gload kept the inning going and hits an RBI single with the bases loaded. This inning went on like this and the Marlins scored a total of 6 runs with RBI from Chris Coghlan, Emilio Bonifacio, and Hanley Ramirez. Bonifacio, Ramirez, and Cantu all had multi-hit games and Coghlan extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
After all this Brian Sanches came out in his usual unimportant relief role, which his is absolutely killing in. He pitched two scoreless innings, keeping his 0.00 ERA at home in 24.1 IP this season. Recently called up Chris Leroux, who replaced Tim Wood, allowed 4 baserunners and 1 run in his inning of work and was not very good at all, but the whole point of him coming up was just to not use anyone when not needed and I guess he allowed that.
This was an important win. The Marlins are 4.5 games behind the Phillies in the division and are 3 games behind the Rockies in the wild card, who they start a 3 game series against on Friday. The Marlins have been playing well since then break and have a 15-10 record in that stretch, winning 6 of 8 series.
Okay then, it’s now time for everyone’s favorite segment, the Craig Counsell Hero of the Game Award!
Today’s winner is…
You’ll usually get an offensive player winning the award when 9 runs are scored but not only did West have a fantastic start, it was also exactly what the team needed after the way the pen has been used as of late. Before tonight’s game, at least 4 relievers had appeared in 7 of the last 8 games. So for this Sean West is the Hero of the Game!
Notes: Chris Leroux made another short stay in the Bigs, being sent down to AA Jacksonville immediately after his appearance. Also, Cody Ross was removed from the game in the 7th inning with back spasms but is not expected to miss any time.