In the penultimate meeting of a four game series against the three-time defending NL East victors the Atlanta Braves, similar trends that have bugged Miami in the wee-hours of the 2021 season reared their ugly head again. Nick Neidert’s failure to make it through five innings, and instant replay being a thorn in the Marlins’ side.
Ultimately though, luck would be on their side as Miami would eek out a 6-5 win in extras, improving their record to 5-6. After starting the season 1-6, the team have now won 4 straight.
Off the heels of a 14-run outburst to capture the series’ second game on Tuesday night, struck out 18 times, the highest such mark of any one team thus far in 2021. Adam Duvall, who tied a franchise record with 7 RBI in that 14-8 victory, accounted for 4 of those strikeouts, giving him 13 in 38 plate appearances.
Despite his struggles at the plate, Duvall made a slew of key defensive plays that kept Miami in this game, including throwing out defending NL MVP Freddie Freeman at second while trying to stretch a single into a double in the bottom of the 3rd. Duvall now has 2 outfield assists in just 73.1 innings in right field this seasons.
The Fish burst out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the 3rd thanks to a three-run homer off the bat of second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. However, that lead would be short-lived thanks to the continued excellence of Ronald Acuña Jr., who continues to make his case for best player in baseball.
Acuña, who nabbed 9 hits in a weekend series versus the Phillies, finished Wednesday’s game 3-5 with 2 home runs. For the season, the Braves’ right fielder is now hitting .447 with a 1.500 OPS.
As noted at the outset, Nick Neidert, making his second career start, failed once again to make it through the fifth inning, again leaving after throwing 4.2 innings pitched. Neidert, who allowed 3 runs, threw just 76 pitches, but walked 4 while striking out 3. In his two starts this season, Neidert has now allowed 9 walks in 9 innings pitched.
“I thought there were times he got going a little fast...but I thought Nick was good. His ball had life today, he was able to get some off speed in...He’s got to keep making pitches and not get excited about the situation. If he can do that, he’s going to be fine.”
Of the 76 pitches Neidert threw, 48 fastballs and 25 sliders, respectively, topping out at 95 mph in the first inning.
Instant replay, which has been a touchy subject early in the 2021 season, hurt Miami for the third time in less than a week when catcher Jorge Alfaro was thrown out at second in similar fashion to Freeman.
Per the initial ruling on the field and the resulting call from the replay center in New York, Alfaro was tagged by Braves’ shortstop Dansby Swanson prior to his foot hitting the bag at second, though many angles of the play show Swanson as to never truly touching the Miami backstop.
Most fans will remember last week’s 3-2 loss against the New York Mets when right fielder Michael Conforto appeared to lean into a 3-2 slider from since-removed closer Anthony Bass. Per MLB’s official replay rules, though, the play is not reviewable and cannot be overturned.
More recently though, utility player Jon Berti was called out trying to steal second in the first game of the Atlanta series after initially being called safe, though Miami would win 5-3 in 10 innings.
The team will go for their first four game sweep since completing the feat against Baltimore August 4-6 2020 on Thursday when Trevor Rogers—off the heels of beating Jacob deGrom—squares off against Ian Anderson, with first pitch coming at 12:20.