The Miami Marlins, whose 2021 season got off to a worrisome 1-6 start, entered Sunday’s series finale against the San Francisco Giants hoping to be over .500 for the first time this season, one game out of 1st in the NL East. A win Sunday would, too, have given the Marlins their first series sweep of the season.
Starter Pablo López danced around some traffic on the base paths in the first two innings before allowing an Alex Dickerson RBI-single with 2 outs in the third. The run would be unearned, however, due to an error charged to first baseman Jesús Aguilar.
The Dickerson single would be all of the offense the Giants would need on this getaway day, winding up the victors in a 1-0 contest, dropping the Fish to a game below .500 at 7-8.
Miami did have a chance to score in the first, though that was greatly affected by a base running gaffe at the feet of shortstop Miguel Rojas, who was thrown out at third trying to execute a double steal with Starling Marte.
“That was on me, it was my decision to go.” said the self-effacing Rojas to reporters.
López set a career high with 9 strikeouts on Sunday. López would finish the afternoon with the one unearned run allowed over 6 innings, lowering his ERA to 3.32. In 4 starts this season, López has allowed 2 runs or less in three of them.
A NEW CAREER HIGH!— Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun (@BallySportsFL) April 18, 2021
Pablo López's 9th strikeout of the game, and ALL NINE have come on the changeup
1 unearned run for Pablo over 5 innings so far...#JuntosMiami pic.twitter.com/CYaq69KAFE
Despite the strong 101-pitch outing from the 25-year old Venezuelan, veteran left-hander Alex Wood - making his Giants debut on Sunday - matched him pitch-for-pitch, tossing 5 shutout innings on just 61 pitches. Wood nows own a career 2.60 ERA in 83 innings against the Marlins.
And while the offense faltered in the loss, the bullpen was not short of excellent, authoring 3 shutout innings to piggy-back off of López’s strong outing. But as was the case with Wood, the Giants bullpen matched Miami’s, authoring four perfect innings.
Among the highlights of the San Francisco relief corps in Sunday’s game was that of 23-year old Camilo Doval, who worked a 1-2-3 7th inning in what was his Major League debut. Doval - whose fastball registered 98.3 mph twice per baseball-savant - struck out both Aguilar and Adam Duvall. The strikeout on Aguilar marked the 1st basemen’s first out by way-of-the-K in his last 26 plate appearances.
San Francisco pitching did not issue a walk the entire game, marking the first time the Marlins offense failed to collect a single walk since September 11, 2020’s 11-0 loss to the Phillies. Miami has now lost their last four games where the offense has gone without collecting a free pass.
A scary scene emerged in the bottom of the 9th inning when center fielder Starling Marte was forced to leave with an apparent oblique injury. Talking with reporters postgame, manager Don Mattingly referred to Marte’s presence as “a big part of what we do.”
Here's the Starling Marte at-bat where he left tonight's game with an apparent injury#JuntosMiami #MLB #SFvsMIA pic.twitter.com/U4ISN8j8CW— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) April 18, 2021
Marte has played in all 15 of the Marlins’ games thus far, hitting .316 with a .912 OPS. In his last 7 games entering play Sunday—the Marlins were 6-1 during that span—Marte slashed .321/.457/.571.
“We don’t have a replacement for that,” uttered Mattingly in his follow up comments regarding Marte’s injury.
Elaborating further postgame, Mattingly noted that Marte begged to stay in the game and hit, something the 6th year Marlins’ skipper would have none of.”
“I’ve had a couple of those. Those never go good,” said the skipper slyly referring to his extensive injury history during his days as a player.
With or without Marte, Miami will be off Monday before starting a brief two-game set against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday to wrap up this current five-game homestand.