It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood of Dolphin Stadium last night for the Marlins.
At the same time county commissioners, er, commissioned the county manager to begin borrowing the funds needed to begin a $563 million dollar stadium project for the team, the Marlins disposed of the Nationals 8-3 behind the pitching of Josh Johnson.
Clearly, with only two games under their belts, it's too early to declare that something's going on here with the Marlins. But certainly fans are watching intently to see if these first two games are a real indicator that the Marlins will be a force to reckon with this year -- they haven't seemed so confident or looked so good out of the blocks in a while.
Johnson pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning yesterday, displaying no evidence of having gone through shoulder surgery last July as he struck out eight and walk none. With one of the strongest starting staffs in baseball, there is good reason to believe that the Marlins have amassed a crew that can keep them in contention in the National League East. In two games, they have walked just one batter.
Helpful homers from Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla helped secure the win, and even the lumbering catcher Ronny Paulino hoofed a double and triple. Opening Day Hero Emilio Bonifacio was thisclose to having his second in-the-park home run, but he settled for a RBI triple as the Marlins continued the display of power and speed they started on Monday.
The only sad face on the day: the Marlins destroyed their former pitcher Scott Olsen, who was traded to the Nats after last year's season so Florida could avoid paying him the salary increase he deserved (but not yesterday). Olsen gave up eight runs in three innings, boosting the Marlins to six in the last two games.
Will they keep it up? It certainly looks as if the Marlins have their groove back. After a noon start to close the series with the Nats today, the Fish face the New York Mets on Friday. Time will tell if the Marlins can stretch their glorious beginning, but if things head south, well, we'll always have the Nationals.