The Miami Marlins bounced back after a disappointing loss on Tuesday night with a 6-2 win on Wednesday afternoon. The Marlins split the two-game exhibition series and, other than one bad inning, looked pretty good doing it.
The task for the team now is to trim the 41-players who traveled to Atlanta down to 30. Miami has until Thursday afternoon to pare down the roster ahead of Friday’s Opening Day tilt in Philadelphia.
What stands out the most from these two games is the improvement at the plate. In 2019, the Marlins were last in home runs and second-to-last in runs scored. Versus the Braves, Miami registered 15 runs and pounded out five homers in two games.
“We have a group that is talented,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said on a Zoom conference call Wednesday morning prior to the game.
“We’ve added some guys that are professional hitters,” Jeter said. “They add a little depth to our lineup. It’s no secret and it goes without saying that we struggled to score runs last year. You hope that these guys are going to help us score a little more.”
On Tuesday, those additions provided a huge lift. Jonathan Villar went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run, an RBI and a stolen base. Jesus Aguilar chipped in with a pair of hits and an RBI and Corey Dickerson plated two on a single.
On Wednesday, Dickerson continued to impress. He reached base on all three plate appearances, including drawing a walk on an 11 pitch at-bat where he started down 0-2. He scored twice in the game.
The real star on Wednesday, though, was Harold Ramirez. The 25-year-old right fielder demonstrated the changes he made in the batter’s box by going 2-for-3 with a home run and a double and three RBI. His adjustments at the plate and his improved conditioning and defense have earned him a regular spot in the lineup.
Pablo Lopez started the game for the Marlins and impressed. Lopez pitched three innings and struck out three, only allowing one hit (a home run to Austin Riley). This performance lines up Lopez to make the start for the Marlins in their home opener versus the Baltimore Orioles next week.
Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyer Jr. has been impressed by Lopez throughout the spring and summer, particularly considering the passing of Lopez’s father recently. His solid outing versus the Braves followed an impressive performance during a simulated game last Thursday.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly noted after that performance that it was “the best I’ve ever seen Pablo look as far as being that aggressive guy.”
After Lopez, Elieser Hernandez entered and had a similarly solid stretch. The presumptive fifth starter tossed three innings, walking one and giving up one earned run (another Riley homer).
Prospects followed Hernandez after that. Jordan Holloway pitched the seventh and gave up two hits but induced an inning-ending double-play. Stephen Tarpley and Sterling Sharp combined to pitch an uneventful eighth (other than a Garrett Cooper error). Ryne Stanek impressed with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth.
Despite the offensive outbursts, the Marlins split the exhibition series. In this one, Monte Harrison responded after a bad strikeout to double in the top of the ninth. Cooper drove him home with a single. Utilityman Eddy Alvarez padded Miami’s run total with an RBI single of his own later in the ninth.
Harrison will start the season in Jupiter but he could be with the Marlins before long.
The Marlins will need to pare down the roster to 30 men as they prepare to leave for Philadelphia. Miami opens the 2020 season versus the Phillies on Friday, when Sandy Alcantara faces off against Aaron Nola.