Tune in at 7:05 PM ET as the Marlins take on the Phillies. Callum Hughson will be liveblogging for your enjoyment.
After only five games of what was supposed to be a season of promise and positives, the Miami Marlins organization is reeling following manager Ozzie Guillen's controversial comments regarding his praising of Cuba's Fidel Castro. One seemingly heartfelt apology later, the Marlins will be without their skipper after suspending him for five games, starting tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in an early season showdown of top pitchers.
Guillen's tendency to speak freely on any subject in blunt terms was one of the key selling points to the Marlins fan base when hired as part of the franchise's overhaul this offseason. The Marlins spent lavishly on free agents ahead of moving into a new ballpark situated in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, with an eye on increasing the team's appeal to the large Cuban-American fan base. However, a firestorm engulfed the franchise starting last weekend after Time magazine quoted Guillen -- a native Venezuelan who at one point admitted to liking that country's controversial leader Hugo Chavez -- in an interview saying he loves Castro and respected Cuba's retired leader for remaining in power for so long.
As the uproar grew, Guillen flew to Miami and provided a somber public apology Tuesday in hopes of beginning to mend fences with the Cuban-American community, many of whom are members of families that settled in Miami after fleeing the small nation as Castro solidified his power. Marlins president Dave Sampson said the team never entertained the thought of firing Guillen, who called the comments "the biggest mistake I've made so far in my life." While Guillen will return to Philadelphia and address the team prior to this contest, bench coach Joey Cora will run the Marlins (2-3) for the final two games of this series and their three-game set at home versus Houston that begins Friday night.
The spotlight burning so brightly on Guillen has overshadowed another potentially spectacular matchup between Phillies ace Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Marlins counterpart Josh Johnson (0-1, 4.50). This will be the fifth time the two right-handers have gone head-to-head, and offense has been scarce -- they have given up a combined 10 runs in those games. Johnson has gotten the better of Halladay, going 2-1 with a 0.65 ERA in the last four matchups. He may be at a further advantage against Philadelphia (1-3), which is batting .198 overall and .179 with runners in scoring position following a 6-2 series-opening loss Monday. Additionally, Johnson has enjoyed pitching at Citizens Bank Park, going 4-0 with a 1.87 ERA in five starts and six total appearances. He will be glad to not see Howard, who has gone 10 for 33 with three homers and two doubles off of him.
Halladay has put up strong numbers despite a 1/3 record when facing Johnson, posting a 1.74 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 31 innings. His lone victory was one for the history books -- a perfect game May 29, 2010, when he struck out 11 in a 1-0 victory in which the Phillies scored their run on an error. He appeared to be in midseason form Thursday at Pittsburgh, limiting the Pirates to a pair of first-inning singles in eight innings of a 1-0 win. Halladay struggled at times during spring training. The Marlins, though, may have some players eager to face Halladay. Jose Reyes is 12 for 29 with three doubles and two triples against him, Gaby Sanchez is 7 for 24 with two homers and Emilio Bonifacio is seeking his fourth consecutive multihit game in the young season.
SS Joe Reyes is 12-for-29 against Phillies' Roy Halladay with one walk and three strikeouts.
It's a chilly night in Philly - that will make it even harder on the hitters tonight against these horses.
Reyes swings at and fouls off the first pitch and we're underway.
Halladay throws Reyes a nasty changeup on an 0-2 count and Reyes grounds out weakly to 1B for the 1st out. That brings up Emilio Bonifacio.
While Bonifacio had a poor spring training - hitting .196 - he's started off hot so far, hitting .421.
Bonifacio hits a squibbler down the 1B line, Halladay fields it but throws an errant throw into RF. Bonifacio safe at 1B with an infield single. Hanley Ramirez steps to the plate with 1 on and 1 out.
Ramirez muscles-up and hits a deep drive to CF but Shane Victorino is able to run it down at the warning track. 2 out now with Giancarlo Stanton at bat.
Stanton is 1/12 career vs. Halladay.
Make that 2/13 as Stanton breaks his bat while lacing a single to LF.
We've got runners on 1st & 2nd and Logan Morrison at bat. He's not doing much better than Stanton: he's 1/11 career vs. Halladay.
Halladay's cutter is boring in on the hands of hitters now, it wasn't so much early on.
Halladay tried to get Stanton to chase a 3-2 curveball but didn't get it. A rare walk from Halladay to load the bases. Gaby Sanchez at bat.
@lakings I don't think this game is being televised in Canada.
Sanchez harmlessly grounds out to 2B to end the threat and Halladay gets out of the jam. The Marlins made Halladay work a little bit - Doc threw 15 pitches in that first inning.
6'7" 250lbs. Josh Johnson takes the mound for the Marlins. He'll face Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins.
Johnson is already looking sharper with his command than he did in his first start of the season in Miami.
Pierre grounds out to 1B for the 1st out. He's still got those wheels.
Polanco hits a can of corn to RF and Stanton camps underneath it. 2 quick outs for Johnson.
Johnson's fastball sitting at 92mph early on. Expect that to move up a tick as he gets warmer and deeper into the game.
Johnson induces Rollins to ground out for a 9 pitch first inning. The Phillies are going to have to work the count a little bit better if they want to have any chance at getting to the Marlins' bullpen.
Omar Infante, John Buck and Josh Johnson are due up for the Marlins in the top of the 2nd inning.
Omar Infante has 3 home runs already this season. In 2011, he didn't hit his 3rd until August.
Infante doesn't hit it out - but he drives the ball deep. This one goes off the top of the wall for a stand-up lead-off double.
John Buck flies out to RF but Infante tags up at 2B and advances to 3B on the sac-fly. 1 out.
Halladay isn't taking Johnson lightly - he starts him off with a nasty breaking ball.
Johnson grounds out to 2B but gets an RBI on the play as Infante scores. It's 1-0 for the Miami Marlins.
Reyes flies out for out #3. Halladay needs only 13 pitches to get through the inning, but the Marlins strike with the first run of the game.
@calvin He certainly would be a nice fit at the front of Toronto's rotation yet again...
Pence, Victorino and Mayberry Jr. are due up for the Phillies in the home-half of the 2nd.