Series preview: Mets at Marlins

March, 30, 2011
3/30/11
6:47
PM ET

US Presswire/Getty Images
Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Javier Vazquez start against the Mets on Opening Day.

METS (79-83, fourth place/NL East) at FLORIDA MARLINS (80-82, third place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (15-9, 3.66) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (11-6, 2.30), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Jon Niese (9-10, 4.20) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (14-9, 4.51), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP R.A. Dickey (11-9, 2.84) vs. RHP Javier Vazquez (10-10, 5.32), 1:10 p.m. ET

* All stats from 2010

Marlins short hops

John Buck replaces Ronny Paulino as the primary catcher after signing a three-year, $18 million deal as a free agent. Buck, 30, slugged a career-high 20 homers in 409 at-bats with the Toronto Blue Jays last season. Brett Hayes beat out Brad Davis as the backup. John Baker was in camp, but is recovering from Tommy John surgery and not expected to be ready for another month.

• First baseman Gaby Sanchez, a University of Miami product, comes off a freshman year in which he hit .273 with 19 homers and 85 RBIs in 572 at-bats and finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting, behind San Francisco’s Buster Posey, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward and St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia.


Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
The Marlins move into a new, retractable-roof stadium on the grounds of the Orange Bowl in 2012.


Omar Infante, who came in a November swap with the Braves along with left-handed reliever Mike Dunn for Dan Uggla, takes over at second base. Uggla then signed a five-year, $62 million extension with Atlanta.

• Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is looking for a rebound season after his batting average dropped 42 points, to .300 in 2010, and his RBI total dipped to 76. Ramirez, who had 32 steals last year, also is looking to run more. He has been working with new infield coach Perry Hill to improve his defense. Hill, most recently with Pittsburgh, was the infield guru with the Marlins the last time they won a World Series.

• After flirting with Bobby Valentine during the offseason, the interim tag was removed from Edwin Rodriguez and he remained at the helm. Rodriguez is the first Puerto Rican-born manager in major league history.

• 2007 first-round pick Matt Dominguez had been the preferred choice to take over at third base, but the 21-year-old hit only .209 in Grapefruit League play and did not make the team. The defensive whiz could be called up by June. Journeyman Donnie Murphy, a career .206 hitter who also has had stops in Kansas City and Oakland, gets plugged into the primary third-base role in the interim. Emilio Bonifacio and Greg Dobbs will also get work there.

Logan Morrison, who played in 62 games as a rookie last season, starts in left field. Morrison had an emotional moment last August at Citi Field. His father, Tom Morrison, took a train from Slidell, La., to New York while suffering from lung cancer because doctors feared his immune system could not handle a flight. Four months later, he passed away.

Chris Coghlan shifts to center field, where he has not appeared in his professional career in a regular-season game in the majors or minors. Coghlan had a shoulder injury during spring training that limited him to 14 Grapefruit League games. He did not play last season after July 25, when he suffered torn meniscus cartilage while delivering a pie to the face of Wes Helms during a celebration after an 11th-inning win.

• Right fielder Mike Stanton put up awesome power numbers last year, combining for 43 homers between Double-A Jacksonville and the majors. He had persistent quadriceps trouble during spring training, but drove in nine runs in his first seven plate appearances after getting in the lineup.

• Ace Josh Johnson won the NL ERA title at 2.30 and also was the most difficult starter to take deep. He allowed only seven homers in 183 2/3 innings. Johnson worked on a changeup during the offseason to complement his fastball and arguably the NL’s best slider.

Ricky Nolasco missed the first half of spring training with a sprained right thumb. He missed the final month of last season with a meniscus tear in his right knee, which was suffered while taking off a shoe. Nolasco avoided arbitration and signed a three-year, $26.5 million deal in December.

Javier Vazquez arrives as a free agent on a one-year, $7 million deal. His velocity was registering a solid 91 mph during spring training. He went 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA in 31 appearances (26 starts) last year with the Yankees.

• Owner Jeffrey Loria ripped the Marlins during spring training, with the squad on a nine-game losing streak that included five errors in the first four innings of one game against the Mets. “I see a lack of energy at the moment, and it doesn’t make me happy,” Loria said on March 16. “We have some extremely skilled athletes here, and hopefully they’ll come out of it when the season starts. … Our players are not ready to play yet.” Florida went 10-2-1 the rest of the Grapefruit League season.

Leo Nunez (30 of 38 save conversions in 2010) will close, with Clay Hensley and Ryan Webb the primary set-up men. Randy Choate and Dunn are the left-handers. Edward Mujica and Webb came from the San Diego Padres in November for outfielder Cameron Maybin to shore up the bullpen. Mujica allowed five runs in his final two Grapefruit League outings after falling on his pitching elbow, but says he is not injured.

• Outfielder Scott Cousins was selected for the final roster spot over Dewayne Wise, who had a bruised big toe during camp. Wise opted out after being assigned to minor league camp.

• The Marlins will have a new stadium with a retractable roof in 2012, which is being constructed on the old Orange Bowl site in Little Havana. It will seat 37,000.

Matchups

Pelfrey vs. Marlins (career: 1-6, 5.32 ERA)
Omar Infante .533, 3 RBI, 1 K, 16 PA
Greg Dobbs .412, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 17 PA
Chris Coghlan .333, 2 BB, 1 K, 11 PA
Gaby Sanchez .333, 1 K, 6 PA
Mike Stanton .333, 1 K, 6 PA
Logan Morrison .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Scott Cousins .333, 3 PA
Hanley Ramirez .281, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, 35 PA
Wes Helms .250, 4 PA
Emilio Bonifacio .143, 7 PA
John Buck --
Brett Hayes --
Donnie Murphy --

Niese vs. Marlins (career: 1-4, 6.49 ERA)
Logan Morrison .500, 2 BB, 7 PA
Brett Hayes .333, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Hanley Ramirez .250, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 10 PA
Wes Helms .250, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 7 PA
Gaby Sanchez .250, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K, 14 PA
Omar Infante .200, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 16 PA
Chris Coghlan .167, 7 PA
Mike Stanton .000, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 6 PA
Emilio Bonifacio --
John Buck --
Scott Cousins --
Greg Dobbs --
Donnie Murphy --

Dickey vs. Marlins (career: 2-2, 6.92 ERA)
John Buck 1.000, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 PA
Emilio Bonifacio 1.000, 1 PA
Omar Infante .571, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 15 PA
Gaby Sanchez .500, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 K, 10 PA
Hanley Ramirez .500, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 13 PA
Chris Coghlan .400, 1 BB, 2 K, 6 PA
Wes Helms .400, 1 K, 5 PA
Logan Morrison .250, 2 K, 4 PA
Brett Hayes .167, 1 K, 6 PA
Greg Dobbs .143, 2 K, 7 PA
Mike Stanton .000, 1 K, 5 PA
Donnie Murphy .000, 2 K, 3 PA
Scott Cousins --

Johnson vs. Mets (career: 7-1, 2.74 ERA)
Josh Thole .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Daniel Murphy .286, 2 BB, 2 K, 16 PA
Willie Harris .267, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 6 K, 22 PA
Angel Pagan .250, 1 BB,1 K, 13 PA
David Wright .231, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K, 27 PA
Ike Davis .200, 1 BB, 2 K, 6 PA
Jose Reyes .182, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, 25 PA
Carlos Beltran .174, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, 27 PA
Scott Hairston .000, 1 BB, 2 K, 6 PA
Lucas Duda --
Brad Emaus --
Chin-lung Hu --
Mike Nickeas --

Nolasco vs. Mets (career: 5-6, 5.46 ERA)
David Wright .383, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB, 15 K, 50 PA
Jose Reyes .375, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 42 PA
Angel Pagan .364, 2 BB, 1 K, 13 PA
Daniel Murphy .353, 1 RBI, 3 K, 18 PA
Carlos Beltran .333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 8 K, 38 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 6 PA
Willie Harris .111, 1 BB, 4 K, 10 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 BB, 4 K, 9 PA
Josh Thole .000, 1 K, 5 PA
Lucas Duda --
Brad Emaus --
Chin-lung Hu --
Mike Nickeas --

Vazquez vs. Mets (career: 10-9, 3.16 ERA)
David Wright .333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 14 PA
Angel Pagan .286, 1 BB, 2 K, 8 PA
Carlos Beltran .222, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 10 PA
Ike Davis .200, 1 RBI, 2 K, 5 PA
Daniel Murphy .167, 1 BB, 7 PA
Jose Reyes .158, 1 BB, 1 K, 20 PA
Willie Harris .100, 2 BB, 2 K, 12 PA
Lucas Duda --
Brad Emaus --
Scott Hairston --
Chin-lung Hu --
Mike Nickeas --
Josh Thole --

Last series results

Marlins won, 2-0, at Sun Life Stadium, Sept. 21-22, 2010 (AP game recaps)

Marlins 5, Mets 2: Rookie Gaby Sanchez hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Marlins to victory. Following a three-hit night, Sanchez is hitting .283 with 19 home runs and 81 RBIs, all among the rookie leaders. The loss officially eliminated the Mets from playing in the postseason. Jose Veras (3-2) worked one inning and picked up the win despite losing the lead in the top of the eighth. Clay Hensley pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save in seven chances. Marlins rookie Adalberto Mendez allowed one run and scattered 10 hits over seven innings. He was helped by his defense, which turned three double plays for him. With two outs in the eighth, Jerry Manuel brought in Elmer Dessens (3-2) to relieve Pedro Feliciano to face Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez lined a single to center, as did Dan Uggla. Sanchez then drilled a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his 19th homer. The Marlins took a 2-1 lead in the seventh thanks to a fielding error by David Wright, his 20th, most among NL third basemen. Wright made up for the error by hitting his 25th homer, off Veras to tie the game. Lucas Duda had homered in the second to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, but an RBI groundout by Chad Tracy in the bottom half of the inning evened the score. Mets starter Mike Pelfrey allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits in seven innings. Jose Reyes' triple in the third inning set a team record. He has hit safely in 23 consecutive road games, breaking Keith Hernandez's mark of 22 set in 1986-87.

Marlins 7, Mets 5: Wes Helms had two of his three RBIs in a five-run first inning, Dan Uggla drove in a pair of runs and the Marlins held on for a victory. Alex Sanabia (5-3) allowed three runs in five innings for the Marlins. Leo Nunez got the Marlins out of a jam in the eighth and Clay Hensley pitched the ninth for his fifth save. With the Marlins leading 6-3 in the eighth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out while facing Jose Veras, who then issued a walk to Josh Thole, forcing in a run. Veras was replaced by Nunez, and Chris Carter drove in a run with a groundout to pull the Mets to within 6-5. Nick Evans struck out to end the inning. Uggla had an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-5. Hensley allowed a two-out triple to Carlos Beltran before Uggla made a diving play to his left to retire David Wright for the final out. The Marlins got off to a quick start, thanks to a wild first inning by Jon Niese (9-10). Niese walked three, including Mike Stanton with the bases loaded. Helms followed Stanton's walk with a two-run double and Brad Davis' RBI groundout made it 5-0. Uggla started the scoring with an RBI single. The Mets cut the deficit to 5-3 on an RBI single by Jose Reyes, a solo homer by Beltran, and a sacrifice fly by Lucas Duda. Beltran had three hits. Niese allowed six runs, five hits, and six walks while striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings. The Marlins won the season series against the Mets, 12-7, and won all six games at Sun Life Stadium.
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187