The Miami Marlins dropped their series opener to the Atlanta Braves, 5-4, on Monday night.
It started out promisingly anyway. After Corey Dickerson flew out to open the game, Starling Marte laced one into left field then stole second base and scored on Jesus Aguila’s single. Aguilar moved to second on Huascar Yno’s wild pitch, Matt Joyce walked, and Brian Anderson singled Aguilar home. Joyce came home on Garrett Cooper’s single to make it 3-0, Marlins.
The lead wouldn’t last long. Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman drew back-to-back walks to open the bottom of the first off Marlins starter Trevor Rogers. Two singles and a double later, and the Braves ended the first frame with a 4-3 lead. Acuna added an RBI-ground rule double in the second inning to make it 5-3, a score that held for most of the rest of the game.
The Braves strung together another pair of base hits to open the third inning, making it eight hits off Rogers to open the series in the first two innings. Rogers then did something unexpected by striking out the next six batters he faced before getting lifted in favor of Ryne Stanek. The Braves didn’t collect another base hit for the rest of the game.
The Marlins, meanwhile, couldn’t get another runner on base until Dickerson’s double to open the seventh. He got to third on a Marte ground out, but was stranded there on Aguilar and Joyce’s back-to-back whiffs.
Anderson and Cooper started the eighth by grounding out and striking out respectively. Miguel Rojas then singled and Jon Berti walked. Jorge Alfaro then drove a 1-2 pitch into left field to bring Rojas home to get the Marlins within a run. Lewis Brinson drew a walk out of new Braves reliever Shane Greene, and Marte blistered a first-pitch 92 MPH fastball at 110.6 MPH off the bat. Unfortunately, it was blistered directly at Atlanta third baseman Austin Riley for the third out.
Starling Marte's hardest-hit ball of the ENTIRE SEASON (D-Backs and Marlins combined) https://t.co/Jf87PeeOUW— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 22, 2020
In the Marlins’ half of the ninth, Aguilar opened with a single into left field, and was pulled for pinch-runner Monte Harrison. Joyce grounded into an unconventional 1-3-6 double play when Harrison attempted to get to third from first on a groundout to the pitcher. The play, although brave, was an unmitigated TOOTBLAN, and should be regarded as such.
Atlanta’s infield was shifted to the right side, leaving third base uncovered. Shortstop Dansby Swanson caught Freddie Freeman’s throw on the run and applied the tag to Harrison’s waist. The Marlins challenged the play, but instant replay confirmed it.
Anderson flew out to end the contest. If not for Harrison’s out, Cooper would’ve been the next batter.
The Marlins still have three more against Atlanta, but the sweep is off the table for the good guys.
An important thing to keep in mind at this point, in my opinion anyway, is that the Marlins are playing with house money. Nobody expected them to compete this season, especially after losing nearly three-quarters of the active roster to COVID-19 three days after the season started. That the Marlins are playing competitive baseball with a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years—just a week until the season’s conclusion—it’s more than I expected so soon.
Miami gets their second of four shots against the Braves starting tonight at 7:10 PM EDT. José Ureña (0-2, 6.00) will get a turn opposite Bryse Wilson (0-0, 7.04 ERA), who is making his sixth career start.