Years ago, Marlins decision-makers and fans could’ve foreseen a “Moran” making his major league debut in their uniform...just not like this. If you tuned into Thursday’s matchup between the cellar-dwelling Fish and Pirates, you witnessed a special moment in the bottom of the fourth inning between Brian Moran and Colin Moran.
Baseball history is rife with examples of family members playing and meeting head-to-head at the MLB level. But pitching directly to your brother during your very first game? That’s unprecedented in the modern era (since 1900).
Striking out your more established sibling? Even sweeter.
Drafted by the Fish with the No. 6 overall pick in 2013, Colin was flipped to the Astros and then the Bucs in trades to acquire starting pitching. He ultimately established himself as a big leaguer last summer and has been Pittsburgh’s primary third baseman ever since. He entered this game slashing .286/.333/.450 during his sophomore campaign, approximately league-average offensive production (101 wRC+). That included .288/.300/.424 in left-on-left matchups with a 21.7% strikeout rate.
On the other hand, Brian grinded an entire decade in the minor leagues. A longtime depth arm in the Mariners organization, he later passed through the hands of the Braves, Dodgers and Rockies, and even ventured to the independent Atlantic League for parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He earned this September call-up with strong performance for the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes (3.15 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 30.6 K% in 60.0 IP).
With the 30-year-old left-hander joining the Marlins active roster on Tuesday, the possibility of this “family reunion” between the lines had been hinted at throughout the series. The Morans themselves addressed it together in an interview with MLB Network’s Intentional Talk this afternoon.
Overall, Brian faced four batters in the scoreless frame, then was removed for pinch-hitter Austin Dean.
Humbled as he may be about finally getting the opportunity to stick in The Show, he ought to be feeling confident following this successful first appearance.