It’s finally happening: baseball is back...sort of. The Marlins faced the Braves in an exhibition game Tuesday as one of the final tune-ups for the MLB regular season. The Fish haven’t faced another team since they 3-0 lost to the St. Louis Cardinals on March 12. During a long, chaotic night, the Marlins looked ready to get going.
The Good: José Ureña, an Atlanta Braves’ favorite pitcher, started for the Marlins. He welcomed Ronald Acuña Jr. with a customary high and inside pitch but settled in nicely. He went five innings, allowed one hit, walked one batter and struck out three.
Ureña closes the book a great spring/summer training having allowed two runs across 17 innings, good for a 1.06 ERA.
The Better: The Marlins scored eight runs with their new lineup. It all began with a home run explosion in the third inning. Jorge Alfaro, Miguel Rojas and newcomer Jonathan Villar went back-to-back-to-back off of Braves LHP Mike Foltynewicz—there’s only been one regular season occurrence of that in the club’s history. Fellow newcomers Corey Dickerson (1-for-4, 2 RBI double) and Jesús Aguilar (2-for-4, RBI) continued the offensive barrage with three RBIs in the fifth inning. Francisco Cervelli added to the Marlins lead with a two-run double in the bottom. Promising Marlins prospect Jesús Sánchez provided the Fish with their ninth and final run with a moonshot of a home run.
The Marlins led for most of the game, and almost half of their runs came via the long ball. After they had the fewest home runs in the league during 2019 (146 HR), a change in direction would be a much-needed breath of fresh air.
One of Miami’s better offseason acquisitions was bench coach and offensive coordinator James Rowson. He helped the Minnesota Twins set a single-season home run record with 307. Although it’s still early, his impact is already being felt.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the bullpen imploded in the eighth inning. Robert Dugger and Adam Conley weren’t able to make it out of the inning. Both pitchers combined to walk four batters and allowed eight runs to give the Braves the lead. Matt Adams would win the game with 9th-inning walk-off home run off of Alex Vesia, snapping a year-long scoreless streak for Vesia that dates back to his stint at High-A Jupiter.
In a shortened season, these kind of sequences would be demoralizing, not only losing individual games but also jeopardizing any playoff aspirations the Marlins might have. The specifics of this contest were eerily similar to another recent meeting between these two teams (also a walk-off loss by the final score of 10-9).
As they prepare for their real season opener, the Marlins will be back in action for another exhibition game Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. Pablo López and Kyle Wright are the probable starting pitchers.
Marlins vs. Braves box score (Baseball Theater)