The first three to five innings of any given game are often overlooked, and I am guessing that those innings in Friday night’s matchup against Colorado will be overlooked as well.
In the top of the first inning, Anibal Sanchez got into a little bit of trouble. He walked the lead-off man, Dexter Fowler, who proceeded to take second base on a passed ball, then third on a bunt. With one out and the runner on third, Sanchez did a nice job striking out Carlos Gonzalez. Troy Tulowitzki then grounded to third baseman Emilio Bonifacio, who fired a strike to Gaby Sanchez, but Gaby dropped the throw allowing Fowler to score. Without any further damage the Marlins got out of the inning.
The Rockies’ commentators made a comment following the error by Sanchez; they basically said that the Marlins looked like they have in previous years–they can out hit you, but they can’t out field you. The Marlins worked on that in the off-season, brining in Perry Hill to be their new infield coach. In Spring Training, Hill stressed the importance of making the routine plays in the infield.
Now one would think that a little error in the first inning would not make a large impact on the game. But being a baseball player myself, I know that it does. Mentally, a ball player suffers a blow after a unearned run scores. My team gives up tons of runs due to walks or errors, and that is killer when I am standing in the outfield, helpless, and my team is losing. Even one run, one run can get to you if it was unnecessary. So I realized this after the top of the first, just praying that the Marlins could make it up on offense.
And the trusty lead-off man, Chris Coghlan, did just that. Chris ripped a shot into the right field bleachers, tying the game, and from that moment on the Marlins have been on. It will get overlooked in the outcome of this game, but that lead-off home run might have been the game for the Fish. It is just that little run that can make the difference mentally for a team, just as an error can.
So the game is still going on now, and the Anibal Sanchez is throwing a no-hitter in the sixth inning. Yes, it is 4-1, but a no-hitter is a no-hitter. In 2006, Sanchez no-hit the Diamondbacks, and no Marlin has thrown a no-no since. Josh Johnson has come close a few times this year, but you guys have heard enough about that from me. And last year, Sanchez threw a one-hit shutout in San Francisco. Coghlan’s home run could have affected him too. As a pitcher, if my defense allows a run to no apparent fault of mine, I’m not happy about it. But if my offense bounces back and picks me up, I will do everything I can to get a win for them. And now Sanchez has just struck out the side in the sixth.
Coghlan’s lead-off homer will definitely be overlooked as a deciding factor in this game in many places, but certainly not in my book.