Hero of the Game: Justin Ruggiano (0.433 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Marcell Ozuna (-0.125 WPA)
Play of the Game: Justin Ruggiano homered in the fifth inning. Ricky Nolasco and Donovan Solano scored. (+0.373 WPA)
The Miami Marlins had two things going for them in tonight's game versus the Atlanta Braves. For one, on a night in which three different teams had scouts in attendance specifically to watch Ricky Nolasco, he delivered in a major way. Nolasco struck out seven batters, including recording his 1000th career strikeout. He also did not walk a batter and gave up just six hits. One of those hits went to eternal nemesis Brian McCann, who hit a solo home run that extended the Braves' early 2-0 lead. But Nolasco even got a measure of revenge against him, as it was his sixth-inning strikeout that turned out to be Nolasco's 1000th whiff.
Ricky Nolasco was strong for his potential trade suitors. He was dominant in terms of getting swings and misses from Braves hitters, as he racked up an astounding 22 whiffs in only 96 pitches, a 22.9 percent rate. With that kind of stuff, he did not have to stay in the strike zone, and he didn't despite excellent results. Nolasco threw 34 balls versus just eight called strikes, which is highly uncharacteristic for him.
If Nolasco had just been dominant, it would have been good, but the Marlins also came through with some timely hitting. Nolasco even chipped in himself, as he drew a two-out walk from opposing starter Mike Minor that kept an inning in which returning infielder Donovan Solano led off with a double alive. This led to a Justin Ruggiano three-run home run that put the Fish ahead for good. The team tacked on three more runs for insurance, including a two-out Adeiny Hechavarria RBI double and yet another multi-RBI double by Jeff Mathis.
The Marlins finally won their first game of the 2013 season against the Braves, and they will look to take the series tomorrow with Henderson Alvarez making his Marlins regular season debut.