Struggling is an understatement when it comes to the Miami Marlins (45-50).
But after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates (40-56) in a three-game series, there still might be some hope.
Before winning Game 1 on Friday, the Marlins were on a four-game losing streak where they were outscored 24-1.
Yes, you read that correctly. It has been a brutal couple of weeks for the fans and organization, but the series win against the Pirates has to feel good for them. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. A win is a win and the Marlins will certainly take it.
Here are five takeaways from the series.
The Scoreless Streak is Over
The Marlins have finally scored a run! They snapped a 37 straight scoreless inning streak in the fourth inning of Game 1 thanks to a double by shortstop Miguel Rojas.
“It felt great to break out offensively, for everybody to do their part and play the game that we played today,” Rojas said after the game. “It’s a little bit of a relief because we didn’t play good at home…we’re continuing to work hard, get better, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
What’s crazy is that they not only scored in that game, but they put up a total of eight runs. It came out of nowhere. Once they got a run through, it felt like the gates just opened up. Miami had 13 hits including five going for extra bases.
But that wasn’t the only streak the Marlins ended that night. Miami had a nine-game streak without a home run that was put to an end when right fielder Avisail Garcia hit a solo shot into the seats in right field during the seventh inning. That had to feel good not only for the team but for Garcia as well because he hadn’t hit a home run since June 29th in St. Louis.
“He’s (Garcia) been swinging the bat actually pretty good”, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said about Garcia’s home run that ended the homerless streak. “It’s good to get that home run out of the way too because it’s another thing that gets written about and all that kind of just comes together.”
Braxton Garrett’s Stellar Start
Marlins left-hander Braxton Garrett (2-3) got the start in Game 1 and he pitched a fantastic game.
Garrett pitched through six innings of work and struck out seven Pittsburgh hitters and allowed just one earned run. He gave up two hits that included a solo home run by Pirates catcher Jason Delay that traveled a mere 354 feet into left field. Given the dimensions of PNC Park, that home run wouldn’t have counted in a lot of major league ballparks. Nonetheless, Garrett had a terrific outing.
The former first-round pick has been playing great in his last couple of starts. In his last game against the Pirates, Garrett racked up 11 strikeouts and allowed only two hits and no earned runs. He has been a nice piece for this young and talented starting rotation.
“He (Garrett) was ahead in the count all night,” Mattingly said about Garrett’s performance. “He was ahead all night I felt like, changed speeds, mixed his locations, and was pretty sharp after that first inning.”
Sandy Alcantara Shouldn’t Worry
Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara (9-4) was given the start in the third game of the series and he pitched a great game. But for Sandy’s standards, it wasn’t the greatest of starts.
The All-Star starting pitcher pitched through six innings and gave up two hits and two earned runs. He did however rack up 10 strikeouts but the three walks ended up hurting him. It was an unusual start by Alcantara because he pitched in just six innings.
“It was a little bit of a battle for him”, Mattingly said after Alcantara’s outing. “He’s had a lot go on since his last start. He flew to L.A. and pitched out there, then came back. There’s a lot going on. But with all that, Sandy is just Sandy and he hangs in there and gives us a chance to win.”
We’re so accustomed to seeing him working through seven, eight, or nine. But, his pitch count just ballooned up 105 at the end of the sixth inning, so Mattingly had no choice but to take him out.
He was visibly upset with his performance, but he shouldn’t be that hard on himself after a great outing. If it just adds fuel to the fire towards his next start, so be it.
Welcome to the Show J.J. Bleday
The day has finally come, Marlins fans.
Outfielder J.J. Bleday made his Major League debut on Saturday after he was subbed into the late innings of Game 2. Bleday was called up from Triple-A Jacksonville due to a roster move that sent Soler to the IL.
The former first-round pick and No.4 ranked prospect in the Marlins system showed flashes of what he can potentially become for this team. Someone who not only gets on base, but has some power to his bat.
Bleday’s first plate appearance in the Major Leagues came in the ninth inning against the Pirate’s All-Star closer, David Bednar. And wouldn’t you know it? Bleday showed patience at the plate and drew a walk.
In Sunday’s game, Bleday was batting in the fifth spot of the order and went 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. In the two games he’s played in so far, he’s been one of the more productive hitters in the Marlins lineup.
“I’m just blessed to be here,” Bleday said following the victory on Sunday. “Especially to be here in Pittsburgh. I grew up two and a half hours north of here so it’s a little surreal, but I really enjoyed this.”
Injuries Are Piling Up
The Marlins have been hit by the injury bug and it has really been hurting the team.
Second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. has been sitting on the IL since the end of June due to a back injury. On Friday, Chisholm was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and will be transferred to the 60-day IL. It’s more than likely that the All-Star second baseman’s season has come to an end.
On Saturday, the Marlins placed left fielder Jorge Soler on the 10-day IL due to back spasms. On that same day during Game 2, rookie right-hander Max Meyer had to exit the game after just 10 pitches due to right elbow discomfort. Also during Game 2, another Marlins All-Star, first baseman Garrett Cooper, was forced to leave the game after getting hit by a pitch in the eighth inning. That pitch hit him in his right wrist and he’s now day-to-day in terms of game status.
But wait, there’s more.
Third baseman Brian Anderson was forced to leave the game after making a diving play on the ball in the sixth inning that caused pain in his left shoulder. Anderson was diagnosed with a shoulder sprain on Sunday and was placed on the 10-day IL.
Injuries have clearly hurt this team and it shows on the field. The offense just isn’t there when a lot of the better players on the squad are out. Miami will have to learn how to overcome this obstacle or else their season might be over.
The Marlins travel to Cincinnati (36-58) for a four-game series from Monday through Thursday.
Photo by Tony Capobianco.
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