Gorkys Hernandez hit his first career home run, Giancarlo Stanton crushed his 30th of the season and A.J. Ramos made a stellar major-league debut — becoming the first Marlins pitcher to strike out the side in his first big-league appearance.
But much like everything else this season for the Marlins season, not much good was made of it.
Former University of Miami standout and reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun led a barrage of big Brewers’ hits as Milwaukee rallied for an 8-4 victory in front of 23,403 at Marlins Park on Tuesday night.
Braun smacked a 400-foot RBI double to center in the first and then a 40-foot nubber down the third-base line in the seventh to ruin what had been a nice rally by the Marlins, and what could have been a victory for Wade LeBlanc. Norichika Aoki and Jeff Bianchi, meanwhile, each homered and drove in three runs for the Brewers, who rallied with five runs off the Marlins bullpen
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“Against a lineup like those guys, if you’re not ready to roll from pitch No. 1, it’s going to be tough to bounce back,” said LeBlanc, who gave up three runs in the first two innings, but pitched four scoreless after that. “I didn’t feel like I was that off.”
Ramos, the Marlins closer at Double A Jacksonville, entered in the ninth inning when the Brewers already had a four-run cushion. He struck out the side, sending Rickie Weeks, Braun and Aramis Ramirez back to the dugout in quick succession.
“I like what I see,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of Ramos, who threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes. “The presence on the mound, the confidence, that’s huge. You look up and you see those three hitters coming up you have the tendency to be nervous, be anxious. This kid handled it very well.”
Said catcher Rob Brantly: “I didn’t even know it was his debut. I thought he’d been up in the big leagues before by the way he handled himself. He came in there, confident and just pounded the zone.”
Brantly, who made his major-league debut last month, was so confident Ramos, 25, had been here before, he tossed the ball after Ramos’ third strikeout to the crowd and had to ask for it back.
“I ran to the dugout, chucked the ball into the stands and everybody was like ‘No!,’ ” Brantly said. “So, I quickly grabbed another ball and said ‘Kid, give me that ball back.’ Luckily we got it back.”
Despite trailing 3-0 early, the Marlins (60-76) rallied to take the lead.
Before Hernandez belted a two-run home run to center in the fifth to give the Marlins a 4-3 advantage, Stanton launched a 436-foot solo blast over the center-field wall to lead off the fourth inning.
Stanton became just the fifth player in major-league history to have consecutive 30-plus home run seasons before the age of 23. The others: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Eddie Matthews and Jimmie Foxx. He’s now tied with Foxx for the eighth most home runs (86) before the age of 23 — one behind Johnny Bench and Ken Griffey Jr.
After Hernandez’s first career homer in 90 big-league at-bats, the Marlins bats went cold.
The bullpen, meanwhile, imploded in the seventh.
After Ryan Webb picked up the first two outs, the Brewers put together four consecutive hits — three of them infield hits — off Webb, Mike Dunn and Carlos Zambrano to take the lead. The last of those hits came off the bat of Braun, which slowly rolled down the third-base line, leaving the Marlins nothing to do as Aoki ran home with the go-ahead run.
“[Braun’s hit] hurt a little bit, but that’s part of the game,” Guillen said. “The bullpen struggled. It’s kind of hard to keep the lead. We tried to put the best matchup out there. But they couldn’t do the job. The only good thing about the bullpen [Tuesday] was the kid.”