The last time Carlos Lee played on the same team with Mark Buehrle, the year was 2004 and their rookie manager for the Chicago White Sox was Ozzie Guillen.
On Thursday, for the first time in nine years, all three joined forces while wearing matching uniforms as Lee – one day after joining Miami in a trade with the Houston Astros – made an immediate impact in his Marlins debut.
Lee went 2 for 4, scored a run and set the stage for another as the Marlins, behind the sparkling pitching of Buehrle, handed the Brewers a 4-0 loss at Miller Park to gain a split of their four-game series.
“With Carlos, that’s what you’re going to get,” Guillen said. “The guy knows how to hit, drive the ball into gaps, knows how to hit with people on base. He can give you a lift.”
Said Logan Morrison, who drove in a pair of runs on a 101-degree afternoon: “He’s as advertised. He’s a professional hitter. It doesn’t take too long to see that.”
After he struck out swinging in his first at-bat, Lee doubled to lead off the fourth and ended up scoring the game’s first run on Morrison’s RBI single. In the eighth, with the Marlins clinging to a 1-0 lead, he singled to right, enabling Hanley Ramirez to advance from first to third. Ramirez ended up scoring on a ground ball by Morrison to make it 2-0.
“Anything I can do to help us win, I’m up for it,” said Lee, who batted third.
All the while, Buehrle was doing a number on the Brewers lineup in stifling heat. Buehrle scattered six hits, struck out eight, and didn’t issue a walk over 7 2/3 innings.
Once, as they were coming off the field together, Lee joked with Buehrle.
“I said, ‘You can’t be throwing 3-2 change-ups,’ ” Lee said. “I told him to man up, throw some fastballs.”
Laughed Buehrle: “He likes to have fun. I got on him before the game. [I said] I thought we were getting a run producer. You only have 29 RBI. He said he hasn’t had a guy on base in three months to drive in.”
Buehrle said that after Lee struck out in his first at-bat, “guys were giving him a hard time, saying ‘We didn’t acquire you for this.’ ”
Lee got some digs in, too.
“He had a few choice words for me, having fun with me,” Buehrle said.
As hot as Thursday was (Miller Park is a retractable roof stadium that is not equipped with air conditioning, so the roof was kept open), Buehrle said he has experienced worse.
“There was a game in Kansas City a couple of years ago, I’d say it was twice as hot as this,” Buehrle said. “You couldn’t even breathe. It felt like there was a blow dryer in my mouth, blowing. This was hot, but it didn’t compare to that day.”
Buehrle induced two double-play ground balls out of Ryan Braun. Braun also bounced into a double play in the ninth when Heath Bell was on the mound to close out the win.
The Marlins added two insurance runs in the ninth on Greg Dobbs’ pinch-hit home run.
Guillen said Lee will make everyone better on the Marlins – with his play and with his personality.
“He’s going to make Hanley [Ramirez] better,” Guillen said. “He’s going to make [Jose] Reyes better. He’s going to take the heat off a lot of guys. Morrison. [Giancarlo] Stanton.”
Said Lee: “They brought me here because they know what I’m capable of doing.”