Aside from the COVID-19 outbreak that has affected the Marlins big time, Miami has enjoyed a great, encouraging start to the 2020 MLB season. In an everyone-has-a-chance campaign, the Fish kicked it off by winning the three-game opening series against the Phillies.
If you’re looking for a stat to get yourself excited about these Marlins, something that differentiates them from recent teams, this is the first time the team has won two out of the first three games of the season since 2014, when they also went 2-1. This has happened only twice since 2010!
One of the reasons the Marlins were great in their opening three-game set was Miguel Rojas. The team’s leader became the third Marlin ever to hit a double, a triple, and a home run in the first three games of the campaign. The other two are Iván Rodríguez (2003) and Rojas’ countryman Omar Infante (2012).
The shortstop didn’t stop there. He owns the second-highest mark for hits by a Marlins player in a three-game span, just behind Emilio Bonifacio and Jeff Conine (both with eight). With seven, Rojas is tied with J.T. Realmuto, Miguel Cabrera, and Luis Castillo.
Rojas also recorded five runs batted in, stole a base, only struck out once, and scored four times. All of that across 12 plate appearances (10 at-bats).
Another big contributor was Sandy Alcántara with his start on Opening Day. The righty dazzled through 6 2⁄3 frames, allowed three hits, one earned run, and punched out seven hitters. The Dominican became the first Marlins pitcher to go at least 6 2⁄3 innings and surrender one or fewer earned runs on Opening Day since Josh Beckett, who did it in 2004 facing the Montreal Expos (7 IP, 1 ER).
With the win, Sandy also broke the Marlins’ OD losing streak (5). In fact, the last pitcher to get the W for the Fish on the first day of the season—prior to 2020—was José Fernández in 2014 (vs. the Rockies).
Also, newcomers made a good impression (well, at least some of them did). Despite Francisco Cervelli and Jonathan Villar coming out of the gates slowly, sluggers Jesús Aguilar and Corey Dickerson did their part, swatting three home runs, driving in four runs, and scoring six times combined.
The new guys in the bullpen were effective as well. Brandon Kintzler, Yimi García, Brad Boxberger, and Stephen Tarpley threw 7 2⁄3 frames against the Phils, allowed five hits and only one earned run (1.17 ERA).
Even though coronavirus has put the Marlins in a vulnerable position, removing difference-makers like Rojas and Alcántara from the roster for the foreseeable future, the remaining players ought to be motivated to keep the club in contention.