Even when his scheduled start goes up against Week 1 of the NFL season, Marlins Sixto Sánchez continues to be a must-watch attraction. Facing the Phillies, who traded him away 19 months ago in a “win now” move, Sánchez limited them to two hits over seven innings on Sunday afternoon, leading a 2-1 victory that pulls the “bottom feeder” Fish into a tie with the Phils in the loss column as the 2020 playoff race intensifies.
- Ramón Rosso—2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (48 pitches)
- Sixto Sánchez—7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (90 pitches)
The rookie right-hander burst out of the gates leaning heavily on his high-90s fastball, mixing in more changeups as the start progressed. An Alec Bohm double to lead off the top of the second was the only batted ball against Sánchez that seriously threatened to leave the yard, smacking halfway up the right field wall. Bohm would come around to score on an Andrew Knapp sacrifice fly.
But the Marlins moved quickly to erase the deficit. Starting at shortstop in place of Miguel Rojas (tending to an injured middle finger), Jazz Chisholm led off the bottom of the third with a walk. Corey Dickerson evened the contest at 1-1 with a single through the right side. It was Dickerson’s third hit with runners in scoring position during this series; he previously only had two such hits for the entire season.
Then Starling Marte put Miami ahead for good with his own RBI single. He already has 10 runs batted in for the Marlins, tied for the seventh-most on the club this year despite being acquired less than two weeks ago.
Inheriting a bases-loaded jam from Ramón Rosso, right-hander Connor Brogdon limited the damage with back-to-back strikeouts. He and David Hale combined for a scoreless 3 2⁄3 innings of work.
The Phillies attempted to rally with two outs in the sixth. Andrew McCutchen turned an 0-2 count into a walk and Jean Segura legged out an infield single, setting up Sixto Sánchez vs. Bryce Harper with the game on the line.
Harper made hard contact on a 1-2 changeup (105.2 mph exit velocity, per Statcast), but the late movement on the pitch prevented him from elevating it. Isan Díaz calmly turned it into the final out of the frame.
The seventh inning also made the Marlins sweat, at least enough to get Brandon Kintzler warming in the bullpen. However, Sánchez once again escaped a jam via the ground ball as Kyle Garlick hit his directly at Chisholm.
Admittedly, Sánchez did not have to deal with the optimal Phillies lineup. Big run producers J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius all sat to conserve energy for the second game of the doubleheader (Realmuto is also battling hip discomfort). Should he remain on an every-five-days pitching schedule, his final two regular season starts will come against the Nationals (at home) and the Braves (on the road). Similar pitching lines in both of those matchups would arguably make him the frontrunner in the NL Rookie of the Year race.
Per @Marlins: Sixto Sánchez became just the second Marlins rookie pitcher to throw a complete game within his first five career outings (other, Brian Meadows, 1998)— Alex Krutchik (@AlexKrutchikFS) September 13, 2020
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