The Miami Marlins are a wagon.
Winners of five straight, the Fish completed the three-game sweep in Boston on Thursday night.
In what could have easily been a let-down series for Miami, perhaps looking ahead to Atlanta this weekend, the Marlins dominated the three-game set from beginning to end.
Entering the series, the Marlins hadn’t won a game at Fenway since 2009, hadn’t won a series at Fenway since 1997, and had never swept a series at Fenway in franchise history.
History was rewritten.
Dominant pitching performances, an offensive explosion, and the return of a familiar face propelled the team to reach 14 games over .500.
The Marlins join local counterparts the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers on the list of teams to decisively take care of business against Boston teams in their own building in the last 60 days.
The inevitable restraining order from the City of Boston should be arriving in South Florida any second.
Ya Like Jazz?
After missing six weeks with a toe injury, Jazz Chisholm Jr. made his highly anticipated return to the diamond.
With the middle of the line up struggling to produce for much of the season, manager Skip Schumaker immediately slotted the budding superstar into the clean-up spot in each of the three games.
Jazz made his presence felt immediately.
In his first at-bat since May 13, Chisholm ripped a double off the center-field wall. On the next pitch, Garrett Cooper lofted a single to right field — and it was showtime for Jazz. The 25-year-old went flying around third base, topping the play off with an absolutely insane slide at the plate, avoiding the tag. That speed, aggression, and just overall excitement are things the Marlins are ecstatic to have back.
The MLB the Show cover athlete went 5-12 (.417), driving in five runs over the three-game set, including three hits and three RBIs in his first game back on Tuesday.
Following his big game in the opener, Jazz homered in each of the next two games, both no-doubt shots to dead center. Thursday night’s long ball was especially memorable, as Chisholm gave us one of the most cold-blooded pimp jobs in recent memory.
Immediately after contact, the “Bahamian Prince” turned his back to the field, staring down the Red Sox faithful behind home plate. This celebration was right out of the Steph Curry playbook, as the Warriors’ point guard is known to occasionally turn his back to the basket before his three-point shot goes in. When asked postgame if he knew the ball was gone right off the bat, the Marlins star said, “A hundred percent.”
As you can imagine, Fenway Park erupted in boos as Chisholm rounded the bases and finished with his patented “Euro-step” before crossing home plate. What did Jazz think about being booed by more than 36,000 people?
“I love it.”
Jazz Chisholm Jr. joins Matthew Tkachuk and Jimmy Butler as the latest South Florida superstar to add their name to the City of Boston’s “Most Hated Athletes” list.
Marlins’ Starters Shine
Sandy Alcántara, Braxton Garrett and Jesús Luzardo got the start in Games 1 through 3 respectively, and they absolutely shoved.
Alcántara: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5 K
Garrett: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 K
Luzardo: 6 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9 K
Alcántara bounced back in a big way after getting knocked around in his previous start against the Blue Jays. The reigning Cy Young Award winner has not pitched up to his standards set last season, but Tuesday’s start is a massive step in the right direction.
Garrett continued to add to his under-the-radar, All-Star-caliber season. Aside from a hanging curveball that Rafael Devers hit into the right-field bleachers, the southpaw was untouchable. His sinker-cutter combo induced weak contact all night, and would have continued to do so had it not been for a 1-hour, 13-minute rain delay that ultimately ended Garrett’s night.
Luzardo arguably had his best start of the season last time out against the Pirates, and he followed it up with another masterclass. The lefty was toying with Boston hitters, and at one point retired 17 consecutive batters. The Parkland native has now thrown 17 straight scoreless innings.
This might be a hot take — but I don’t care: The Miami Marlins have the best rotation in the National League, top to bottom.
Marlins starters own the National League’s best ERA, WHIP, opponent AVG, opponent OPS, and K/9.
Give them the respect they deserve.
In addition to the starters, the bullpen was lockdown as well, only giving up one run over 8 ⅔ innings and striking out 13.
Huascar Brazobán, Tanner Scott and Andrew Nardi were terrific in middle-relief roles, and closer A.J. Puk converted both of his save opportunities.
The pen has been a pleasant surprise for Miami, and Puk has been at the forefront of that success.
With 13 saves and a 2.88 ERA, the former University of Florida standout has given the Marlins stability in the closer’s role for the first time in recent memory.
In addition to Puk, Scott and Nardi have been revelations.
After subpar performances in 2022, the two southpaws have come out sharp in 2023.
Tanner Scott has pitched to a 3.23 ERA compared to a 4.31 ERA last season, and has shown a major improvement in control this season (6.61 BB/9 in 2022 to 3.69 in 2023).
Andrew Nardi is as unsung of a hero as you’ll find. Last season as a rookie, the lefty pitched in 13 games. Over 14 ⅔ innings, the former University of Arizona Wildcat surrendered 25 hits, 16 earned runs and 14 walks. Yikes.
But so far this season Nardi has transformed himself into one of Schumaker’s most trusted relievers, pitching to a 2.55 ERA over 35 ⅓ innings. Nardi is one of the best bullpen pieces in baseball, and absolutely deserves All-Star consideration.
The Marlins have been waiting years to have a bullpen they can feel confident in.
And, man, does it feel good.
Luis Arráez: All-Star Starter
The fans got it right.
The most notable acquisition of the offseason, Arráez was coming off a stellar 2022 campaign, making the American League All-Star team and winning the AL batting crown.
Due to that success, coupled with the Marlins giving up a potential ace (Pablo Lopez) to acquire the 26-year old second baseman, expectations for Arráez were sky high entering the season.
He has exceeded every single one of them.
From hitting for the first cycle in franchise history, to flirting with .400 all season, to almost putting a hole in first-base coach Jon Jay’s chest every time he gets a hit, Arráez has given Marlins fans something that they have not had in a long time — belief.
And now, he will make the organization proud yet again, representing them as the NL starting second baseman in the Mid-Summer Classic.
When asked about hearing the news from Skip Schumaker on Thursday, Arráez was humbled.
“I almost cried there, [it was] emotional… I give it [all] to my teammates, to my family, to the fans who support me,” Arráez said.
He has made Marlins baseball relevant again.
Braves On Deck
The biggest series of the season has arrived.
The Marlins, winners of 11 of their last 14, travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves, winners of 13 of their last 14.
These are two of the hottest teams in baseball, and there should be fireworks this weekend.
This series will serve as a litmus test for the Fish, as the Braves have been the standard across Major League Baseball this season.
The Marlins have Bryan Hoeing, Eury Pérez and Sandy Alcántara on the bump, three right-handers who are at the top of their game coming into this three-game set.
The spotlight will be on the Miami Marlins this weekend, something that hasn’t been said since 2003.