Two main things can be taken away from the first three games of a four-game series for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Miami Marlins: The Marlins' new park in Little Havana is hideous, and being a relief pitcher is the worst job in Major League Baseball.
The color scheme around the park is composed of four offensive colors, most notably bright green, there's a "nightclub" in left field, a gross sculpture
in the outfield, aquariums for a backstop, and other features that could only be seen as appropriate in Miami.
As for the other complaint -- relief pitching -- it wasn't all that bad, especially since D'Backs starting pitcher Joe Saunder's didn't need one Friday night.
Saunders pitched a complete game three-hitter, as the Diamondbacks put up five runs and 15 hits for a fairly easy win.
Saunders wasn't dominating, but was efficient, and easily outmatched league loony Carlos Zambrano.
It took Saunders 116 pitches to get through the game, striking out four and walking a pair.
As for Zambrano, things didn't go his way, meaning he got emotional, as usual.
He gave up 10 hits in his six innings of pitching, but just three of the five D'Backs runs came off Zambrano's pitches -- Miguel Montero hit a single to score Justin Upton in the first, Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to score Aaron Hill in the next inning, and Hill popped a ball over the left-field fence in the third.
Not much was spectacular in Friday's game, except for the fact that Saunders -- who had a 12-13 record with a 3.69 ERA last year -- pitched a complete game shutout.
Saturday's and Sunday's games are when the bullpen complaints come into play.
D'Backs ace Ian Kennedy did pretty much what he needed to do on Saturday: He pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up just one run, although he allowed seven hits. Like Saunders before him, he wasn't dominant, but very effective.
Kennedy was pulled after his pitch count topped 100, and reliever Bryan Shaw pitched well to finish the seventh inning.
The D'Backs put up just two runs -- both in the first inning -- so the bullpen couldn't allow more than one run in the next two innings to preserve Kennedy's and the team's win.
That didn't happen.
The Diamondbacks' hard-throwing reliever David Hernandez took the mound in the next inning. He blew the lead on the first batter he faced -- a homer from outfielder Logan Morrison.
Hernandez then got it together and struck out the side.
With the game tied at two, the Diamondbacks got absolutely nothing productive done in the top of the ninth inning.
Brad Ziegler took over on the mound for Hernandez, and like Hernandez, Ziegler was shaky.
Ziegler struck out his first batter, but Mike Stanton -- who prefers to be called "Giancarlo" Stanton these days, for some reason -- reached on an infield single.
The man no one wants to call Giancarlo made it to second on an Emilio Bonifacio groundout, and D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson called for the intentional walk of Jose Reyes to face the ice-cold Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez ended his 0-for-26 streak with an unspectacular single, but that was enough for the Marlins to walk off with a 3-2 victory.
Ziegler gets the loss, and the blame, but that's what comes with the territory of a relief pitcher. Most people won't remember the previous eight games Ziegler came in, and left without giving up a run, or the fact that the D'Backs only put up two runs in this game, and Ziegler gave up just one -- but it's his fault in the box score.
Yesterday's game looked like it could have been an entry in the book of D'Backs lore -- early as a success, and later as a total failure. It was neither, but a win nonetheless.
New starter Wade Miley no-hit the Marlins through five innings. It's not supposed to be a legitimate bid at a no-hitter until at least six, but between watching the TV broadcast and the radio, it was on everyone's mind after four -- or earlier.
Marlins catcher John Buck led off the sixth inning with a double off Miley, which dropped the excitement of that game down several notches, considering the D'Backs had already put eight on the board.
Outfielder Gerardo Parra had singled home Miley in the third, as outfielder Jason Kubel and catcher Miguel Montero also brought men home on consecutive singles in the fifth -- this, all off the Marlins' ace, Josh Johnson.
Johnson was pulled in the sixth after the D'Backs singled home a run for the fourth time.
With Willie Bloomquist on third, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen decided to intentionally walk Upton for some reason. Whatever that reason was, Kubel proved it was a bad one, hitting a double just short of getting out of the park, scoring both men.
Almost the same exact thing happened a couple batters later, except the walk setting it up wasn't intentional. With Kubel on, Montero walked. D'Backs newcomer Cody Ransom made the Marlins pay for that, with a deep double that scored both men on base.
Even with the eight runs of security, Miley still got into trouble, but not entirely by his doing.
Miley walked the leadoff batter in the seventh inning, and the next batter also reached base after a throwing error by Lyle Overbay. Infante, the next batter, lined out, but Bloomquist made an error, advancing both of the baserunners.
Ziegler came in to relieve Miley of his duties.
Ziegler's first batter, "Giancarlo" Stanton, grounded out, but Ramirez scored from third on the play. Miley had walked Ramirez to put him on base, so he was stuck with that earned run, unfortunately.
Two batters later, Ziegler, got out of the inning, and got out of the game mostly unscathed.
Craig Beslow came in for the eighth, and left without any damage done.
Then came the ninth inning, which was just another example of why being a relief pitcher is an awful job.
Mike Zagurski came in for the D'Backs, and got a quick out against Ramirez.
Morrison, the next batter, singled. Infante Doubled. "Giancarlo" Stanton brought them both home with a 425-foot bomb. One-third of an inning and three runs was enough for Zagurski, who's given up four runs in his 2.1 innings of work this season.
That made it 8-4 D'Backs in the bottom of the ninth, in a game that had people talking no-hitter about an hour before.
Shaw came in again with no problems -- he got two quick outs to end the game, although he walked a man between them.
So the Diamondbacks took two of three in Miami, with one still left to play.
In those three games, D'Backs starters gave up one, barely two runs combined -- if we're including Miley's walk, who advanced on two fielders' errors, and scored on another pitcher. The scorer counts it as an earned run so we'll count it too.
The other five runs came off D'Backs relievers, who haven't exactly been a gang of aces so far -- but you can't really blame them. Yeah, sure, you've pitched a few days in a row now, but the bases are loaded and someone's gotta get the out.
Especially when a reliever's not on top of his game, it's not the most fun job in the world -- ask Joe Paterson and his 37.13 ERA. You'll have to place that call to AAA to get a hold of him these days, though.
The D'Backs play the last game of the series in Miami at 9:40 a.m. today.