Saturday, July 5, 2008

Opposite Coasts, Opposite Direction

On the Atlantic side of things, the Marlins are struggling like, well, like fish out of water. Florida was once again rocked by the Rockies (I'm full of the obvious puns tonight!), this time by the score of 12-6. A common thread in many of these recent losses is a lack of longevity in starting pitching. Tonight's starter, Ryan Tucker, last just 4 innings. He gave up 8 runs on 7 hits, with 6 of those runs coming in his final inning. This marks a Major League record 263rd straight game without a complete game pitched. To make matters worse, one of the Marlins more reliable relievers, Justin Miller, was put on the 15 day DL earlier today. Closer Kevin Gregg has had a rough stretch, failing in his last 2 attempts to record a save. On the season, Gregg is 15 of 21. The Marlins are going to have to find longer starts from someone in the rotation if they hope to keep pace.

Meanwhile, on the other coast (of Florida), the Rays have the best record in baseball. With their win over the Royals tonight, Tampa extended its winning streak to 6, and its lead in the AL East is at 4 games. The Rays are 9-1 in their last 10. Perhaps the most telling stat is their home record, 35-13. The friendly confines of the Trop have been... devilish... to their opponents. The Rays, as opposed to their Floridian counterparts, have 3 pitchers who have complete games this season, including 3 time CG-er, James Shields. Closer Troy Percival, although currently on the DL, is saving games at a much better clip (19 of 21). Quality pitching = wins.

The Marlins are still only 3.5 games back of the Phils, but now sit just one game over .500. To make things worse, the Mets are starting to play well. They are just one game behind the Fish after their win against the Phillies. The Fish continue their tour of the NL west with 1 more against the Rockies tomorrow, and then a trip to lowly San Diego where they need to make a statement. A 4 game series against the struggling Dodgers offers more opportunities to turn things around before the All-Star break. Oh yeah, the first series after the break is at home against the Phillies.

The Rays lead the highly financed AL East by 4 games, and are playing like a team that will be there in October. Tampa still has 2 more against the Royals, then a quick 2 game set with at Yankee Stadium, followed by a 3 game series in Cleveland against another surprisingly wallowing team in the Indians. They won't see Boston or New York again until the first week in September.

With one week to go before the break, both clubs have opportunities against lesser opponents to show that they are planning to play meaningful baseball well into September. Hopefully, Florida will have multiple representation in October.

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