Carlos Zambrano Leads Miami Marlins to Seventh-Straight Win

By Tom Froemming

Carlos Zambrano looked like the Big Z of old tonight as he shut out the Houston Astros to give the Miami Marlins their seventh-straight victory.

The franchise got off to a rough start after their big rebranding this offseason, going 8-14 and finishing April in dead last in the National League East. To make things worse, their new manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for remarks he made pertaining to his fondness for Fidel Castro, alienating a huge part of the team’s fan base.

Since the calendar has turned, however, the team is a perfect 7-0. Their quick turn from disaster to a game over .500 (15-14) in the blink of an eye is a great example of why you can’t overreact to early-season results.

What’s most impressive about the streak is how they’re winning games. They’ve outscored their opponents by just 14 runs over the streak (31-17) with four of their wins coming at a one-run margin. The old adage in any sport is good teams find a way to win games.

The most impressive aspect of the Marlins this year has definitely been their starting rotation. Josh Johnson has struggled to find himself, posting an ERA of 6.61, but Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez all have ERAs under 3.00.

With his big game Monday night, Zambrano lowered his ERA to 1.98. The 30-year-old former Chicago Cubs ace gave up just three hits and walked one while striking out nine Astros batters. He threw 109 pitches, 68 for strikes in the bandbox Minute Maid Park. The 6-foot 5-inch, 270-pound Venezuelan was once a horse of a starter, but hasn’t eclipse 200 innings since 2007.

All the Marlins’ runs came off homers, with Giancarlo Stanton hitting a two-run shot and both John Buck and Hanley Ramirez adding a solo bomb. Anibal Sanchez will try to keep the Fish rolling Tuesday tonight against Aneury Rodriguez and the ‘Stros.

It’s still early, but he Marlins are starting to look like a player in what should be a great race in the NL East this season.

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