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Marlins 5, Orioles 4: “We’re not as bad as those guys”

J.T. Realmuto continues building on a career year with two home runs, and that provided juuuuuust enough of a cushion for Wei-Yin Chen and the bullpen.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Baltimore Orioles
Helluva combination near the top of the Marlins lineup.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

In danger of suffering one of their largest blown leads of the season, Brad Ziegler and the Marlins defense toughened up in the later innings to secure the 5-4 win on Saturday afternoon. The team has an opportunity to finally sweep a series (albeit against the miserable Orioles).

  • Wei-Yin Chen: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (94 pitches)
  • Alex Cobb: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (96 pitches)

The least sexy pitching matchup imaginable—between two overpaid, underwhelming veterans—played out largely as expected. Both Chen and Cobb threw about two-thirds of their pitches for strikes, but couldn’t generate many swing-and-misses.

J.T. Realmuto squared up a couple balls in favorable counts. Neither of these were cheap shots:

The soon-to-be NL All-Star finished the game with a .309/.371/.546 batting line in 2018.

However, we should’ve suspected that it wasn’t going to be that easy:

Don Mattingly had little choice but to trust Chen for as long as he did, considering his bullpen was still fatigued from Thursday’s marathon game. Jonathan Schoop’s solo homer in the sixth inning pressured the Marlins to get some reinforcements warming up.

Ahead 4-0 early on, the lead nearly slipped away in the seventh when Mattingly called upon Tayron Guerrero. Guerrero followed up back-to-back strikeouts by surrendering three straight hits, the last of which by Danny Valencia made the score 5-4 and moved the tying run into scoring position.

Fortunately, Ziegler came to the rescue (yes, really). JT Riddle fielded a grounder up the middle and converted the final out of the inning. The 38-year-old stayed on for the eighth, keeping every batted ball in the infield.

Reluctant to use Kyle Barraclough for a third straight day, the Marlins called for Drew Steckenrider in the save situation. He continues to dominate any team not named the Atlanta Braves. It was Steckenrider’s second major league save (first this season).

Despite the satisfactory final outcome, this continued a disturbing trend for the hard-throwing Guerrero. Over the past 30 days, he has allowed 26 baserunners in only 10 23 innings for a frightening 2.44 WHIP. Having seemingly lost confidence in his slider, it’s fair to wonder whether he could be due for a demotion to Triple-A soon. Rule 5 draft pick Brett Graves was recently added to the active roster, plus right-hander Nick Wittgren (finger) has progressed to pitching in minor league rehab games. It’s getting crowded in the Miami bullpen.

Also, in case it hadn’t occurred to you already, it’s time to forget about the 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick: the Marlins can’t out-tank the Orioles. These last-place teams are now separated by seven games in the loss column.

In the series finale, rookie Trevor Richards starts against Orioles ace Dylan Bundy. As we’ve mentioned ad nauseam, the Fish still haven’t swept an opponent all season. First pitch will be approximately 1:05pm.

Win probability chart
Courtesy of FanGraphs

Kingfish: Ziegler (.257 WPA)

Flounder: Cobb (-.167)

Play of the game: Starlin Castro’s double play in the ninth (.289)

Attendance: 23.948

Please leave any Icthy picks in the comments below. Remember, we introduced a new grand prize for the contest this season!

Today's Lineups

Derek Dietrich - DH Craig Gentry - RF
Brian Anderson - RF Adam Jones - CF
J.T. Realmuto - C Manny Machado - SS
Justin Bour - 1B Danny Valencia - 3B
Starlin Castro - 2B Trey Mancini - 1B
JT Riddle - SS Jonathan Schoop - 2B
Lewis Brinson - CF Mark Trumbo - DH
J.B. Shuck - LF Joey Rickard - LF
Yadiel Rivera - 3B Austin Wynns - C
Wei-Yin Chen - LHP Alex Cobb - RHP

6/16/18 Probable Starters

Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Wei-Yin Chen Marlins 39.2 6.13 5.89 7.03 -0.4
Alex Cobb Orioles 56.0 7.23 5.12 5.95 0.2

Matchup Summary

We originally shared the observation on Twitter, but it’s worth repeating here: this is perhaps the last time all season that the Marlins will play a team definitively worse than they are. So fans are either thinking 1) “Let’s seize the opportunity, pile up some wins!” or 2) “Can’t afford to win these games! Puts the 2019 No. 1 draft pick out of reach.”

On Friday night, José Ureña and the clutch rookies combined for a 2-0 victory.

This wasn’t an isolated incident for Lewis Brinson, either. He’s been noticeably better since the calendar turned to June.

The biggest concern for the Fish was Miguel Rojas’ health after taking a HBP to the left hand. He’s not in the lineup on Saturday, but the injury isn’t considered serious (h/t Joe Frisaro, Speaking of injuries, first baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper shared the good news that he’ll begin playing in minor league rehab games, two-and-a-half months removed from suffering a torn tendon sheath in his wrist.

This game’s pitching matchup features Wei-Yin Chen and Alex Cobb, both of whom have allowed tons of baserunners. So expect a much different final score from the series opener.

Thread Question: Marlins don’t have the shortstop position settled long term. Manny “Mr. Miami” Machado is a free agent this offseason. Not the craziest idea, right? Is there a scenario where signing him would make sense?