The Miami Marlins (54-47) were hoping to get back on track as they hosted the Colorado Rockies (39-60) for a three-game series at LoanDepot Park.
This was the perfect opportunity for Miami to halt their post-All Star break skid against the worst team in the National League. But, it was still a bumpy ride for the struggling Fish as the Rockies went on to win the series two games to one.
But the Marlins were able to finish the series on a high note, winning Game 3 in walk-off fashion and hope to ignite a little bit of momentum.
Miami is 1-8 since the break and if they don’t turn things around quickly, they might turn into sellers at the trade deadline.
Here are the takeaways from the series.
Rocky start from Garrett
It was an outing to forget for left-handed pitcher Braxton Garrett.
Starting Game 1 of the series for the Marlins, Garrett logged just three innings while allowing seven hits and six earned runs.
Garrett gave up three home runs which is something you don’t see too often when the Marlins are playing home at LoanDepot Park.
“Today, I thought the curveball was just getting hit more than usual,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said about Garrett’s outing. “A couple home runs off that and I don’t think the sinker had the movement that he was used to.”
It’s been a downhill slope for Garrett in his recent outings. In his last start, he went just 4.2 innings and allowed six hits and four earned runs.
“My cutter hasn’t been great,” Garrett said about his recent struggles. “It hasn’t been in good spots and they (Rockies) just had a really good approach. They were aggressive early and I was just leaving balls a little bit too much over the plate.”
The Marlins need Garrett to be pitching deeper into games or else it’s going to take a toll on their bullpen.
Cueto is here
Johnny Cueto made his first start on the mound for the Marlins since the beginning of April, and he did not show any signs of rust.
In six innings, Cueto allowed just two hits, one earned run and a walk. But what really stood out were his eight strikeouts.
“I thought he elevated his fastball really well,” Shumaker said about what was working for Cueto. “…Not a ton of hard hits either.”
Cueto, with just 81 pitches in the seventh inning, still looked like he had plenty of gas left in the tank. But Schumaker decided to make a pitching change and bring in right-handed reliever J.T. Chargois.
Chargois would end up giving up a single which led to a three-run home run by Rockies right fielder Nolan Jones that tied the game 3-3.
“We had a really fresh bullpen,” Schumaker said on why he took Cueto out in the seventh inning. “And you like your chances when you’re up three runs…We just didn’t get it done today.”
Jesus Luzardo: A strikeout machine
Did Miami find their new ace?
Marlins left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo got the start for Game 3 in hopes to avoid the sweep and he absolutely blew everyone away.
Luzardo pitched seven innings and allowed four hits, two walks and one earned run. He also tallied a career-high 13 strikeouts which tied the Marlins record for most strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher. Along with that, Luzardo tied his career-high in innings pitched and set a career-high in total pitches thrown with 115.
Luzardo is now up to 144 strikeouts on the season, placing him second in the National League and fifth in all of baseball in total strikeouts.
Questionable calls by Skip
Since the All Star break, there have been some decisions that some might shake their heads at from Shumaker. These decisions point directly to pitching.
There’s no doubt that Miami’s pitching staff hasn’t been performing at the same level they had been pre-All Star break. Starting pitchers are struggling to go deep into games which, as previously mentioned in the article, can be a burden on the bullpen.
But to take Cueto out after six shutout innings with a reasonable pitch count is really bizarre. It’s easier to say in hindsight after the Rockies ultimately ended up winning the game, but it’s unlike Shumaker. We saw him make great decisions in the first half of the season and all of a sudden, it feels as if he’s making choices that he himself isn’t fully confident with.
Also in Game 2, Shumaker decided to use his closer, A.J. Puk, in the eighth inning instead of the ninth. That left Tanner Scott with the job of taking care of the ninth inning and that decision would backfire, as the Rockies took a 4-3 lead that sealed the game and the series.
“(A.J.) Puk has not lost his closing role,” Shumaker said about reversing the roles of Puk and Scott during Game 2. “It’s just (that) there’s certain pockets that I wanted Tanner (Scott) in.”
Schumaker went on to reiterate, “He (Puk) hasn’t lost the (closer) role, it’s just (that) we’ve flipped it as far as where the pockets are.”
Of course, these hiccups aren’t particularly unusual for a first-year manager. Hopefully, Shumaker can get through these growing pains and get the Marlins back on track.
Arraez walks it off for the Fish
With the Marlins on the verge of being swept and losing their ninth-straight game, Luis Arraez decided that enough was enough.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Miami had a runner on second base because of the extra-inning rule. The Rockies would intentionally walk Jesus Sanchez to put runners on first and second base.
Marlins outfielder Dane Myers would strike out and catcher Nick Fortes drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases for Arraez.
Even with Colorado positioned in with six infielders (they moved the right fielder to the infield), Arraez still found a way to hit the ball into play.
Arraez hit a curveball into the outfield and hit his first-career walk-off hit for the Marlins.
“I (saw) they’ve got six infielders and I want(ed) to hit the ball into the outfield and I did it,” Arraez said about his walk-off hit after the game. “But I didn’t see anyone in right field and then the pitcher threw a lot of breaking pitches and I said ok.”
The Marlins will head to St. Petersburg and face the Tampa Bay Rays (61-42). Game 1 is on Tuesday, July 25 at 6:40 p.m. ET on Bally Sports Florida.