There are few things more grating in baseball then watching a player who frustrated or under-performed on your team go to a new team and succeed. It's even more irritating when that player finds success against his old squad, as was the case tonight with Jarred Cosart's return to Miami. Cosart annoyingly out-dueled David Phelps and looked poised to send the Marlins to their 14th loss in 23 August games. To add the cherry on top as Fish Stripes member Volvowill predicted in the gamethread comments, Brad Hand pitched in with a crucial Dee Gordon strikeout to quell a Marlins threat in the seventh.
But baseball is funny and unpredictable and the Marlins, down 6-2 at one point and looking like they didn't have a comeback in them, came roaring back in the eighth to tie things up and ended up walking off in the ninth courtesy of unlikely hero Chris Johnson.
The Marlins would pick up their first run in the first inning to take the early lead. After Cosart retired the first two batters, Christian Yelich drew a walk and Marcell Ozuna tagged a 2-2 pitch over unseasoned right fielder Patrick Kivlehan's head, allowing Yelich to score from first, 1-0 Fish.
The Fish had something going in the second with Robert Andino at second base and Adeiny Hechavarria at first base, but the proponents of the designated hitter scored another victory tonight as David Phelps proceeded to bunt into a double play to end the threat.
J.T. Realmuto reached on an error by Padres second baseman Ryan Schmipf to start the Marlins third. Martin Prado followed with a solid line drive to right field moving Realmuto from first to third with nobody out. Christian Yelich then grounded a ball into the shift on the right side but it was enough to score Realmuto from third to make it 2-0 Fish.
In the Padres 4th, with Corey Dickerson, Schmipf and Kivlehan on board (the latter two thanks to walks), new Padre Luis Sardinas hit a deep ball to centerfield that cleared the bases of friars and gave the Padres a 3-2 lead. An ugly error followed suit when Xavier Scruggs awkwardly tossed the ball to Phelps attempting to cover the bag at first and Phelps dropped it, allowing Sardinas to score from second and making the lead 4-2 Padres.
Phelps had looked sharp early, coming into the fourth with a no hitter going despite a couple walks, but he couldn't get out of the inning, leaving Hunter Cervenka and Nick Wittgren to clean up the mess. It was easily Phelps' worst outing since returning the starting rotation, giving up four runs in three and a third's innings whereas in his four previous starts he had given up three total earned runs in over twenty innings pitched. Wittgren would allow a solo shot to Schmipf in the fifth inning to pump up the Padres lead to 5-2. Mike Dunn allowed a solo shot to the suddenly competent hitter Sardinas in the sixth inning to make it 6-2 Padres.
Cosart, meanwhile, would last five innings, giving up two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out three. Pretty much the high end of a good Cosart outing. It looked like it would be enough through six relatively lifeless Marlins offensive half innings.
The Marlins first had something going again in the seventh inning off of reliever Jose Dominguez. With two outs in the books, Realmuto hit a ground rule double and Yelich walked. Ozuna followed up by smacking a solid single to plate Realmuto and inch closer to the lead, 6-3 Padres. Ozuna reached second on an error by the right fielder Kivlehan but then another face from the past popped up in the form of Brad Hand, who got Dee Gordon to strikeout to end the seventh.
In the eighth, Hand would give up back to back singles to Jeff Francoeur and Robert Andino. Rojas grounded a ball to third forcing Francouer out, and Solarte would toss across to Schmipf where Andino was initially called out but was overturned quickly via review. Hand would then get Chris Johnson to go down swinging but walked Realmuto to load the bags full of fish and that would be all she wrote for Hand as Andy Green went to the pen to get his closer Brandon Maurer for a four out save.
Martin Prado stepped up to the plate and he did not dissapoint, looping a clean line drive to dead center to bring home two and bring the Marlins to within one, 6-5. Yelich then tied the game up with another center field single, 6-6, robbing Cosart of a decision.
Flash forward after a clean Fernando Rodney inning to the Marlins ninth. Jeff Francoeur reached base, Ichiro Suzuki walked and with two outs Johnson stepped up to the plate and delivered a beautiful deep fly ball that was just out of reach of the center fielder and the Marlins walked off in fantastic fashion, 7-6 your final score. A critical win to keep the Marlins afloat in the wild card race.
Clayton Richard vs. Jose Urena in game two tomorrow, 7:10 ET start time.
Hero of the game: Christian Yelich (.302)
Flounder of the game: Brandon Maurer (-.742)
Play of the game: Chris Johnson walks off (.392)