Originally posted on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 5/8/12
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The Monday Takeaway
When the Marlins embarked on their nine-game road trip to San Francisco, San Diego, and Houston, manager Ozzie Guillen’s team was a disappointing 7-15. Seven games in, Miami has improved to 14-15, going from an early afterthought to within 3 ½ games of the division-leading Nationals.

Here are the Marlins’ runs allowed totals during this road trip: 1, 2, 2, 8, 1, 3, 0. That’s 17 combined runs allowed over seven games (an average of 2.43 per game) and, if you toss out the outlier—Friday’s wild, 12-inning win over the Padres—nine combined runs allowed in the other six games.

Carlos Zambrano has been responsible for 16 scoreless innings since the team left Miami, and he tossed a three-hitter in Houston last night, his first complete-game shutout since September 25, 2009. A low-risk gamble by Larry Beinfest amid the Marlins’ big-ticket signings this winter, Zambrano has delivered five quality starts in six tries, and his 32-to-14 K/BB ratio suggests that the improvement is no fluke. 

But the sudden revival of Giancarlo Stanton’s power stroke has been equally vital to the Marlins’ surge. The 22-year-old right fielder formerly known as Big Mike went homerless in his first 19 games as Giancarlo before getting off the schneid on April 29. He has since cranked five more long balls on the road trip, and he became the first player to go deep off Wandy Rodriguez this season in last night’s game.

Monday’s win broke the Marlins’ franchise record for consecutive wins on a single road trip, and tonight, the team will try to equal its longest overall road winning streak, which was set at eight between July 16 and August 5, 1995. Anibal Sanchez—who beat the Astros in Miami on April 15 and is seventh in the National League with a 2.42 FIP—will be on the mound to lead the way.

What to Watch for on Tuesday

  • Lance Lynn became the National League’s first six-game winner last night, and James Shields has a chance to match him as the American League leader tonight (7:05 p.m. ET). Shields allowed six runs in five innings to the Yankees on Opening Day, taking a no-decision before reeling off five straight wins. The Rays are 6-0 behind Big Game James to date.
  • This is not a good time to be either of the Weeks brothers: Jemile and Rickie are sitting on identically awful .174 batting averages after the latter went 0-for-4 on Monday. But if Rickie could handpick a pitcher to serve as his slumpbuster, he might well choose tonight’s (8:10 p.m. ET) Reds starter, Homer Bailey.  The elder Weeks is 10-for-17 with three walks in 21 career plate appearances against Bailey, good for a 1.490 OPS, his best mark versus any pitcher (min. 20 PAs).
  • Rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks drilled two homers last night, and in the process, he became the first player in Red Sox history to record at least one extra-base hit in each of his first four major-league games. Middlebrooks’ next opponent will be Royals lefty Danny Duffy (8:10 p.m. ET), a fellow 2007 draftee who beat the Yankees in his previous start and has fanned 26 batters in 22 2/3 innings so far this season.
  • The Rockies’ starting pitching depth took a hit on Monday, as Jhoulys Chacin was placed on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation and Jorge De La Rosa was roughed up in his rehab start at High-A Modesto, a bump in his road back from Tommy John surgery. That opens the door for Tuesday’s (10:10 p.m. ET) starter, Alex White, to stick in manager Jim Tracy’s rotation for a while. In five starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs prior to his callup, the sinkerballer logged a 2.92 ERA and 21-to-8 K/BB ratio over 24 2/3 innings. He struggled mightily in a 10-start cup of coffee last season, serving up 15 homers in 51 1/3 innings, but White kept the ball in the yard in the Pacific Coast League and should enjoy the friendly confines of Petco Park tonight.
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