We were on the top of the world, and getting everybody's attention. Regis Philbin inserted the Marlins into his daily Senile Round-up. Philadelphia sportswriters were warning fans that the Phillies had more than the Mets to worry about. "They're not a mirage and they're not going away," wrote the Daily News' Paul Hagen. "They will be a factor this season."
Josh Johnson was untouchable. John Baker was suddenly the best-hitting catcher in baseball. Emilio Bonifacio, God bless his soul, could not miss.
The Marlins were 11-1, and off to the fastest start in franchise history.
Ah, for it to be last week again.
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Last night, the Marlins lost their seventh straight game, getting smacked up by the Mets, 7-1. The game was over by the first inning. Hanley Ramirez left after being hit in the wrist by a pitch (he's day-to-day) and the Mets scored six runs in the first off of starter Anibal Sanchez.
The Marlins have now lost their last couple of games by a score of 3 to 20, and besides losses where closer Matt Lindstrom blew leads, the team has looked downright uncompetitive.
Regis aside, the Marlins' Behind the Music-esque downward tumble hasn't surprised many in the baseball world. The young team wasn't expected to contend, and the holes that have shown themselves in the last week were well-known coming into the season. The struggling Ricky Nolasco leads a sub-par rotation, and when Dan Uggla (who's been slumping) and Han-Ram don't hit for a night, it can be nearly impossible for the rest of the line-up to fill the scoreboard. And while most of the bullpen has been unexpectedly strong- and was as sturdy as Teflon during the hot start- Lindstrom is giving shell-shocked Marlins fans nightmares involving Kevin Gregg.
That said, we are 100-percent sure that the Marlins will one day win another game, and 46-percent confident that they will maintain a little of that early-season magic and contend in the National League East. They're a team with a ton of raw talent, not unlike the Tampa Bay Devil Rays two years ago: similarly, they might need one more year to get it all together.