This new Miami Marlins’ regime prides itself on its ability to draft and develop prospects. Twenty-five percent of their 28-man playoff roster is rookies, including Sixto Sánchez and Monte Harrison.
But it was Miami’s offseason veteran signings that made the difference in their 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in game one of the Wild Card Series. Corey Dickerson and Jesús Aguilar hit a pair of seventh-inning home runs to give the Marlins the lead after being dominated by Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks for a majority of the game.
Prior to the seventh inning, Hendricks was lights out against a Miami lineup that has been inconsistent all season. The Marlins didn’t get a hit until the fourth inning, when Aguilar hit a leadoff double. From there, the Marlins were able to get a runner into scoring position in four consecutive innings. But Hendricks was always able to get key ground balls to get himself out of the jams he put himself into.
Down 1-0 in the seventh, Dickerson hit the first postseason home run for the Marlins in 17 years. Back in 2003, it was a walk-off home run by Alex Gonzalez to beat the New York Yankees in game four of the World Series. On Wednesday, it was a three-run home run by Dickerson to give Miami a 3-1 lead late in the game. Two batters later, Jesus Aguilar, who the Marlins signed as a veteran free agent over the 2019-20 offseason, hit a two-run home run to push the lead to 5-1.
“It was about getting a good pitch, and don’t miss it,” said Dickerson, who is Derek Jeter’s most expensive free agent signing in his tenure, at $2.6 million. “I think early on, I was thinking a little too much, trying to be perfect. But that time, I just saw it over the plate, got my timing right, and let it go.”
The Marlins’ five-run outburst in the seventh inning was the first time they had scored five or more runs in a single playoff inning since the eighth inning on October 14, 2003 against the Chicago Cubs—the Steve Bartman inning.
While the offense found success eventually, starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara was just as good as he had promised. In a virtual press conference with the media on Tuesday, Alcantara seemed confident that his stuff would be good today, saying “I think they have to be ready for me tomorrow.”
As it turns out, the Cubs were not ready for Alcantara. Besides an Ian Happ home run in the fifth, Alcantara went toe-to-toe with Hendricks all game, and cemented himself as the go-to guy if the Marlins’ playoff run continues. In 6 2⁄3 innings, he only gave up that one run, as well as three hits and four strikeouts.
“I did not feel I had my best stuff today,” Alcantara said. “But I kept throwing the ball, throwing strikes. But you guys see the result. I never give up, I was trying to find a way to throw strikes and make my pitches.”
The Marlins WIN!!!— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) September 30, 2020
One of the biggest rallies of the year, with dingers by Dickerson and Aguilar
Great postseason debuts for Sandy and Wallach(!)
It takes 13 playoff wins to get the WS title. 1 down, 12 to go.
Although the Marlins only need one more win to advance to the NLDS, they will likely need to do it without their top hitter, Starling Marte. Marte was hit on the hand by a pitch in the eighth inning, fracturing his pinkie finger on his left (non-throwing) hand. The Marlins are still optimistic that he can play through it in some capacity, but we will likely see to roles of Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison expand during this series.
Marlins rookie phenom Sixto Sánchez will attempt to clinch the series in game two tomorrow against Yu Darvish and the Cubs. First pitch will be at 2:08 p.m. ET.