MIAMI—You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Starling Marte is probably happy with how he handled his.
In his first game in a Miami Marlins uniform, Marte hit a no-doubt home run to left-centerfield to break a 2-2 tie and give the Fish a victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Once I hit the ball, I felt it,” Marte said. “The energy I felt with the bat, I knew it was gone. And when I got to the dugout, it was great. Enjoying it with the guys, I felt their support. It was a very joyful moment.”
The Marlins faced adversity early, however. After a shaky start that saw Marlins starting pitcher Elieser Hernandez give up a run in two innings, Hernandez was taken out of the game in the third inning due to a sore right lat muscle.
Josh A. Smith was called in as the emergency relief pitcher. A tall task, but Smith handled it as well as he possibly could. He gave Miami four innings while allowing just one run. His only jam came in the sixth inning. He opened up the frame by allowing a bloop single to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed by a walk to Rowdy Tellez. With two runners on base with nobody out, Smith picked off the runner at second base, and followed it up with a 6-4-3 double play on the very next pitch.
In the bottom half of the 6th, everything appeared to come full circle for Miami. Starling Marte, who the Marlins just acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline yesterday, hit a sharp ground ball to Jonathan Villar, who was just traded from Miami. Villar committed a costly error, allowing Marte to reach base. This set up Garrett Cooper with the RBI-double to tie the game at 2-2. Cooper is hitting 285/.285/.714 with 2 HR and 6 RBI since his IL return on August 28.
The Fish came into the eighth inning tied at two. Their offense has been spotty for the last few days, and we’ve been wondering who in the lineup will finally step up. Tonight, it was Marte. The 31-year-old turned on a fastball down the middle, and sent it 438 feet to right-centerfield. In a season where fans are prohibited from the ballpark, the Marlins dugout made enough noise for several thousand people as soon as the ball left the bat and disappeared into the Miami sky.
“That was an instant one,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “The first split-second as soon as it takes off, you know that’s way out. So the dugout erupts in a game like that.”
Marte is only the second player in Marlins history to hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later in his first game with the team. The first player? Miguel Cabrera in 2003.
Closer Brandon Kintzler’s ninth inning was clean and brief, retiring Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Rowdy Tellez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on seven pitches. He remains perfect in save opportunities this season.
On Wednesday night, the Marlins will attempt a two-game sweep and in order to accomplish that feat, Miami’s hitters must escape a tough left-hander in Hyun-Jin Ryu. His most recent start against the Marlins (Aug. 11) resulted in a no-decision, logging six innings of one-run baseball, allowing a home run, walking two and striking out seven. Sixto Sánchez will make his third major league start. The right-handed flame-thrower struck out 10 Tampa Bay Rays hitters in seven shutout innings Aug. 28 at Marlins Park.
- Although it was originally hypothesized that Hernandez was suffering from a blister, it turned out to be a sore lat muscle. He will be getting an MRI on Wednesday and is day-to-day for now. Mattingly said he might have to miss a start. In that case, it’s likely that José Ureña will be called up from the Jupiter site, where he has been since rehabbing from his COVID IL stint.
- Miguel Rojas also exited the game with an injury. According to Mattingly, Rojas felt abdominal soreness after his final at-bat in the seventh inning.
- Rojas’ injury lead to Jazz Chisholm’s MLB debut, though. On the very first pitch of the eighth inning, Chisholm caught a hard line drive that left Cavan Biggio’s bat at 99.6 MPH.