I felt sympathetic towards Edwin Rodriguez after his Friday night ejection, as it appeared he had a valid point, but his lineup tonight boggled my mind. There are a lot of good things that can arise from batting Dewayne Wise and Emilio Bonifacio one-two in the lineup, and few of them are good for the hitting team. Wise has a .280 on-base percentage since the start of the 2008 season and Bonifacio is around .315. It seems Rodriguez is of the mindset where having speed qualifies one to bat leadoff. All while Hanley Ramirez and his .295 on-base percentage this season bat sixth.
Naturally, Bonifacio reached base, stole second (then advanced to third on an error) and scored on a high chopper to the mound, which may compel Rodriguez to use that lineup configuration again. Say this about the universe: it has a sense of humor.
The offense came out swinging and could have scored more than they did. It’s rare to write that on a night when seven runs are put on the board, but the Marlins outfield caught numerous hard and deep hit liners throughout the night—including balls near or at the warning track from Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton. Really, the entire lineup deserves some praise, but for the sake of brevity I’ll single out Casey Kotchman and Reid Brignac.
Kotchman has looked better at the plate over the last week. I don’t even know if his results are better, but tonight marked the third or fourth time he drove the ball this week, and that’s a huge thing. The fewer groundballs he hits the better. I’m still going to hesitate from buying into the hype, because I’ve been around long enough to recognize even the worst hitters can look competent over short periods of time. Still, if this is the genesis of a skill set shift, then by all means, bring it on.
Kotchman’s first at-bat included a liner to right that likely ends up as a double for anyone else. Kotchman but was limited to a single due to Bonifacio’s speed, and his lack of—even as a left-handed batter, Kotchman is painfully slow, which he demonstrated on the next play, as Hanley Ramirez had time to go deep into the whole then fire back to second for a force out. Kotchman’s second hit was more impressive. The pitch was away and Kotchman did not appear to have a firm grip on the bat, but somehow drove it opposite field into the gap for a double. It would be nice to see this Kotchman show up more often, because otherwise he is Ichiro without the qualities that make Ichiro a sustainable force.
As for Brignac, he entered June with four walks, and now has five on the month, including two multi-walk games within the past week. Similar to Kotchman, I’m not going to jump in bed over a small sample size and declare it a skill change or that Brignac is now a disciplined hitter. Ocelots rarely change their fur. Brignac also added a double, so this bears repeating: It would be nice to see this Brignac show up more often, because otherwise he is young Miguel Tejada without the quantities that made young Miguel Tejada a sustainable force. Oh, and Brignac had a few nice defensive plays (including a ridiculous stab on Hanley Ramirez early in the game) and continues to display what folks would call positive leadership qualities on the mound.
Alex Cobb was optioned to Triple-A after the game and it’s a bit of a somber moment. I’ve been a Cobb fan since he proved he could pitch in Double-A (I even predicted him to move up the boards behind an improved changeup), and it’s hard to be disappointed with the first five starts of his major league career. He isn’t going to be an ace, not here, not for any contending team, but the middle-to-back of the rotation should hold a spot for him. Cobb has a future in this league.
Jeff Niemann is back and will start on Monday against the Brewers.