With support from LoanDepot Park’s largest crowd of the season and major contributions from several of their least-experienced players, the Marlins beat the Braves on Saturday. They improved to 5-1 against their NL East rival in 2021; that’s night-and-day from the last full season series between them (2019) when Miami went a pitiful 4-15.
- Max Fried—6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 27.7 CSW% (94 pitches)
- Zach Thompson—5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 39.4 CSW% (66 pitches)
Zach Thompson retired the side in order in the top of the first inning and was quickly afforded a lead to work with. On Bahamian Heritage Night, the islands’ favorite son Jazz Chisholm Jr. earned a leadoff walk against Max Fried and eventually came home on Jesús Aguilar’s sacrifice fly.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth when Adam Duvall pounded a Fried fastball into AutoNation Alley. At an estimated 437 feet, per Statcast, it was the longest home run that’s been hit in Miami all year. Duvall has already gone deep against his former team four times in these intradivision matchups.
Thompson was legitimately effective! His cutter had shown promise during his MLB debut against the Red Sox on Monday, but that weapon stood out even more vs. Atlanta. Accounting for nearly half of his total pitches thrown, the tall right-hander’s cutter got 15 combined called strikes and whiffs (46.9 CSW%).
Zach Thompson cuts up William Contreras to keep the Braves off the scoreboard ✂️✂️✂️ pic.twitter.com/xdEN4mNi6Q— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) June 12, 2021
Because the designated hitter was in effect in his debut, Thompson didn’t get a chance to step in the batter’s box until today. But he was unintimidated by Fried, singling to right field on the second pitch he saw. Addressing the media afterward, Thompson admitted that he recently picked up a bat for the first time in “years” to prepare for this game.
Corner outfielders Corey Dickerson and Adam Duvall had defensive lapses in the top of the third, giving Atlanta runners on the corners. The man in the middle, Starling Marte, cleaned up their mess with an awesome outfield assist.
Thompson’s afternoon ended when he was replaced by pinch-hitter Lewin Díaz in the bottom of the fifth. Díaz had thrived—in a small sample—against lefties while with Triple-A Jacksonville. Great to see it translate to The Show!
Díaz became the eighth Marlins player to record his first career homer in a pinch-hitting role, joining Bryan Petersen, Gaby Sanchez, Brett Hayes, Jeremy Hermida, Joe Dillon, Chris Clapinski and Bruce Aven.
Still entrenched as the Marlins’ main setup man for some reason, Anthony Bass put the game in doubt in the eighth by allowing a two-run shot to Freddie Freeman. He completed the inning with the lead intact, though.
Hoping to stay away from using Yimi García for the third consecutive day, Don Mattingly called upon Dylan Floro for the save opportunity. Floro did the job with a trio of groundouts.
Rookie phenom Anthony Bender recorded five outs in relief of Thompson. He still hasn’t allowed an earned run through his first 16 major league innings. As of early Saturday evening, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the only player with more runs batted in than Aguilar (49). In the bottom of the fourth, speedy Jon Berti was picked off (the Marlins challenged it, but the play was upheld). It was the league-leading 11th time that a Miami baserunner has made an out that way.
Prior to the game, the Marlins placed NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner Trevor Rogers on the injured list and recalled right-handed reliever Preston Guilmet. All signs point to this move being COVID related. According to Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald, the IL stint should be “minimal” so there’s hope that Rogers could make his next scheduled start.
Sunday’s series finale gets underway at 1:10 p.m. with Drew Smyly and Pablo López expected to start for their respective teams.