Miami not converting when in scoring position
Last in MLB with RISP, club shows signs of busting out Tuesday
MIAMI -- Scoring chances have been there for the Marlins, but converting has been an issue. The season-long struggle to drive in runs continues to present problems.
After going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Pirates, the Marlins entered Tuesday hitting an MLB-low .201 with runners in scoring position.
For the season, the Marlins were 57-for-283 with runners at either second or third base. They had eight doubles and eight home runs in this those circumstances.
But on Tuesday night, Miami had a breakout game, cashing in on several scoring chances. Through four innings, the Marlins were 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Boosted by a five-run fourth inning, they claimed a 6-1 lead. They finished 4-for-12 with 10 runners left on base in the 6-2 win.
Manager Ozzie Guillen is satisfied with the approaches of the players.
"They're just not getting it done," Guillen said. "They're not selfish. Everybody is pulling the same rope together. They're pulling for each other in the dugout. When I see a player not doing what they're supposed to do, I'm not hiding it from anybody.
"If you know my style, this is my job. I will let you guys know if I see any bats or I see somebody do what they're not supposed to do. If I see somebody not playing the game right, I will get on his butt."
Miami's on-base percentage with runners in scoring position is .302, which ranks 28 out of 30 clubs. Because of their issues with runners in scoring position, it's easy to see why the Marlins are 23rd overall in scoring runs.
Logan Morrison struck out with the tying run on third in the eighth inning on Monday.
"I absolutely have to do a better job," Morrison said. "With two outs and runners in scoring position, that's the toughest time to get a hit. It's frustrating to leave them out there, but at the same time, it's more frustrating to leave them out there when there is less than two outs, like a key spot last night."
Morrison says the team can improve its RISP average if it has more chances with less than two outs.
"I think the more opportunities we can get runners on second base with no outs, and runners on third with less than two outs, it will help us out a lot more," he said. "It will kind of take that pressure off of having to get a hit with two outs and runners in scoring position. That's the toughest time to get a hit."
Slumping Gaby gives way to Dobbs vs. Bucs
MIAMI -- Gaby Sanchez has been searching for consistency at the plate all season. On Tuesday, the first baseman found himself out of the Marlins' lineup.
Greg Dobbs got the start at first in favor of Sanchez in the Marlins' series finale against the Pirates, but don't expect the change to be a long-term one. Manager Ozzie Guillen said the switch isn't permanent, and that he just wanted to get Dobbs, the Majors' active leader in pinch-hits, some regular at-bats to keep him sharp.
"Just play him today, get him some at-bats, put some at-bats together and give Gaby a break," Guillen said. "Gaby's swinging the bat a little bit better now. The last couple of games he's been swinging the bat a little bit better."
Sanchez, a career .269 hitter entering the year, has struggled this season. He is hitting just .198 with a .244 on-base percentage in 32 games. Sanchez has particularly struggled this month, hitting just .184 with two RBIs in 11 games.
"It is crazy, just because I know what type of player I am and what type of hitter I am, but it happens, I guess," Sanchez said. "Everybody has to go through it at one time or another, and there's a lot of guys right now in the league that are going through the same type of situations."
While a handful of other normally successful players have had trouble producing at the plate this season -- like the Angels' Albert Pujols (.197 with one home run and 12 RBIs) -- only one everyday first baseman in the National League is faring worse at the plate than Sanchez: Ike Davis. The Mets' first baseman is hitting .168 with a .227 on-base percentage in 34 games entering Tuesday.
But Sanchez isn't letting his slow start weigh too heavily on him. The last two seasons he has gotten off to fast starts on offense, only to tail off down the stretch. In 2010, he hit .307 through the first three months of the season, but hit .202 in his final 30 games. Last season he was hitting .322 when the calendar turned to June, but had just a .219 average in August and September.
"It's like they say: It's not how you start, it's how you finish," Sanchez said. "Maybe this is a different year: Start off slow and finish strong."
Petersen back in Miami after 10-day Minors stint
MIAMI -- Bryan Petersen suspected something was up on Monday when he was informed he wasn't playing right field for Triple-A New Orleans. Instead, Zephyrs manager Ron Hassey told Petersen that he was going to be the designated hitter and get two at-bats.
"I came into the clubhouse and I was playing right field," Petersen said. "Before the game, Hass came up and said, 'You're going to play DH and you're going to get two at-bats. That's all I got for you.' I was like, 'All right. Play it out and see what happens.'"
Petersen knew what was happening, and on Tuesday it became official when he was recalled by the Marlins.
After Monday's Marlins' 3-2 loss to the Pirates, the team announced outfielder Kevin Mattison was being sent to New Orleans. The move wasn't surprising since Petersen is more big league tested to come off the bench. Mattison, who was called up on Thursday for the first time in his career, had one pinch-hit at-bat, in which he grounded out.
Petersen was recalled 10 days after he was optioned on May 5 to make way for an extra relief pitcher. By league rule, players (barring a disabled list situation) have to wait 10 days to be eligible to be recalled.
Petersen gives manager Ozzie Guillen a left-handed bat off the bench. And he can play all three outfield spots. His playing time may depend on how left fielder Logan Morrison, who has been given periodic time off to rest his right knee, is feeling.
"Matty, we sent him down because he needs to play," Guillen said. "Petey, it depends on how LoMo is doing. That will dictate playing time. Right now, he's going to back up."
Preparing to come off the bench is an adjustment for players. Petersen says sometimes, from the dugout, he will simulate at-bats with certain players. For instance, he has broken down Emilio Bonifacio's at-bats.
"When you're not playing, you lose the instinct and the ability to play the game," Petersen said. "When you're down there, in your third at-bat, you're thinking, 'He's going to throw me a changeup right here.' You don't have that when you're not playing every day. So it's one of those things, you have to focus on the game.
"Sometimes I will take at-bats with guys. If a guy like Boni is hitting, sometimes I'll take the at-bat with him, so I feel locked into the game. There is a soft focus when you're watching the game. And when a guy comes up, there is a hard focus, and you may take the at-bat with him. Just so you're staying mentally in there."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.