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Noche de Sixto: Top prospect flashes dominance, helps Marlins to doubleheader split

Sixto Sánchez enjoyed an efficient major league debut Saturday night.

MLB: Game Two-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1: Marlins 4, Nationals 5 (F/7)

The doubleheader opener looked like a lost cause almost immediately. After Scherzer worked a 1-2-3 first inning, Castano was out of sync, allowing three of the first four Nationals to reach base safely. Manager Don Mattingly gave him the extremely quick hook in favor of Josh A. Smith, who calmed things down for the next several innings.

But passing through the lineup a second time in the bottom of the fourth, the Marlins right-hander began to miss his spots. A Jesús Sánchez throwing error aggravated the situation, Corey Dickerson added his own miscue and the deficit swelled to 5-0.

Just as the entire South Florida television audience began switching over to the Miami Heat game, Magneuris Sierra ignited a rally with one out in the fifth. The 376-foot double was the farthest batted ball of his major league career.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Matt Joyce provided the exclamation point with a two-run home run—his first as a Marlin—and Sánchez achieved a milestone of own by collecting his first career run batted in on a bases-loaded walk. Scherzer was sent to the showers after only 4 23 frames.

Washington’s bullpen took care of business from there, however.

On the bright side, right-hander Jesús Tinoco contributed two hitless innings in his Marlins debut.

Game 2: Nationals 3, Marlins 5 (F/7)

  • Wil Crowe—3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR (64 pitches)
  • Sixto Sánchez—5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR (66 pitches)

The Marlins fanbase has been inundated with exciting MLB debuts in 2020, but they’ve been starved for instant successes. While the final line might not reflect it, the 22-year-old Sánchez emphatically showed his readiness to contribute to the starting rotation.

Sixto delivered his much-anticipated first pitch at 7:50 p.m. ET, a blazing 98.4 mile-per-hour fastball, in what was technically a Miami home game (making up for a postponed game from the previously scheduled Marlins/Nationals series). His combination of velocity and movement was awe-inspiring.

Paired with veteran catcher Francisco Cervelli, Sánchez worked at a fast, efficient pace through two innings. His changeup, in particular, seemed unhittable.

Fish Stripes original GIF

The third inning began with an ominous scene as Cervelli removed himself from the game. Despite having just recently been activated from the injured list, Jorge Alfaro—the only other catcher on the active roster—replaced him. Speaking to the media postgame, Cervelli said he believes a foul ball that struck him in the mask caused the issue.

Yan Gomes greeted the new battery rudely with a solo home run to put Washington up 1-0.

Dickerson answered back during the bottom of the inning with a two-run no-doubter against Crowe.

The Fish padded their lead with a combination of hustle, small ball and shoddy fielding. The fourth inning should’ve ended on a Sierra bases-loaded strikeout, but Gomes could not catch the swinging strike cleanly and every runner moved up a base. Lewis Brinson was credited with an infield single that made it 4-1.

Víctor Robles took Sánchez deep on a poorly located changeup that brought the Nats back within one in the fifth. The flame-throwing prospect wrapped up his debut on a high note by getting Juan Soto to ground out.

Fully recovered from a triceps injury, left-hander Richard Bleier took the mound in the sixth. But on a somber note, Cervelli has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be placed on the 7-day concussion IL. Brian Navarreto is traveling with the Marlins as a member of their taxi squad and seems likely to be added to the active roster as the corresponding move.

Sixto Sánchez joined Aníbal Sánchez (2006) as the only players in Marlins history to pitch five-plus innings and issue zero walks in their major league debut.

What a coincidence—Sunday’s game features Aníbal and Humberto Mejía, in what will be the third straight game started by a Marlins rookie pitcher. First pitch is slated for 12:35 p.m. ET. With Alfaro crouching for 11 defensive innings on Saturday, Navarreto could be on the field right away.

Marlins vs. Nationals Game 1 box score

Marlins vs. Nationals Game 2 box score

Fish Picks Answer Key

  1. Nationals
  2. Over
  3. No
  4. Nationals
  5. Sánchez
  6. Over
  7. Yes
  8. Marlins