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Florida vs. Pittsburgh, 14 May 2007


Dontrelle Willis (5-2, 5.40) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (4-2, 2.72).

The Bucs play the Marlins so rarely - and the team is so isolated, both in terms of its geographical location and by general lack of fan and media interest - that whenever I get to see them I'm reminded of being eight years old and watching Bloodsport or playing Mike Tyson's Punchout. Not in that there's anything about the Marlins that's violent or casually racist or something, but in that the Marlins as a team feels like one of a string of characters that's colorful and interesting but basically inconsequential, like Soda Popinski. Like the Pirates play them and I think, "Yeah! Wow! The Marlins! Fun!" but then I don't think about them that much after they're gone. I don't know if that made any sense.

Anyway, 2007 doesn't look like the year that the Marlins' three-year streak of inconsequential-ness will end, but this is still a really fun team. In Pittsburgh, a 5.40 ERA gets you a 2-4 record - those are Paul Maholm's numbers. In Florida, it gets Willis a 5-2 mark, thanks partly to a good offense that's been buoyed by Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Willingham. Their young pitching has struggled a lot - Josh Johnson's out for quite a while, and Scott Olsen, Willis and Ricky Nolasco have taken big steps backward. Actually, the Marlin with the lowest ERA is flamethrower Henry Owens, who the Pirates dumped for nothing a couple of years ago. The Fish also recently acquired Byung Hyun Kim, which just makes them more fun, in my opinion - he's one of my favorite players to watch.

Here's the box. Ryan Doumit starts and first and Jose Castillo starts at third. Jeremy Hermida returns from the DL and makes his first start of the year for the Marlins.