In what would be the final game before the All-Star break, Pablo López put a stamp on his first half in historic fashion in Miami’s 7-4 win over the Braves.
Pitching on the one year anniversary of his father passing away, the Marlins’ right-hander became the first pitcher in Major League history to start a game with 9-consecutive strikeouts, going 1-2-3 thrice via the K. Leadoff hitter Ehire Adrianza would lead off the 4th by grounding out to the first baseman Jesús Aguilar, thus thwarting López’s attempt at becoming just the third pitch in big league history to strike out 10 consecutive batters in a single game.
A NEW MLB RECORD!— MLB (@MLB) July 11, 2021
Pablo López strikes out the first 9 batters to start the game! pic.twitter.com/sY6BZlMkIx
“He was somewhere watching and he’s been there with me ever since he passed away a year ago. I just want to make him proud,” said López postgame when reflecting on his father.
Pablo further noted that he will be keeping the record-setting strikeout ball as a memento from this start.
“I have the ball sitting in my locker. I’m just waiting for it to be authenticated,” reflected López in his clinically even-keeled, yet, happy demeanor.
Aguilar would do damage at the plate, too, driving in 4 runs Sunday, three of which coming on the strength of his 15th home run of the season.
Per the Marlins’ communications team, Aguilar’s 62 RBI - along with Adam Duvall’s 62 - make them just the third pair of Marlins’ teammates with 60 or more RBI before the All-Star break. The pair join Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado in 2005 and Mike Lowell and Cliff Floyd in 2001.
Thanks in large part to Aguilar’s sudden tenacity to hit the long ball at home, it was an early shower for Atlanta starter Ian Anderson, who lasted just 2.1 innings, walking a career-worst 5 while allowing 4 earned runs.
Despite further being on the precipice of history, López would run into some trouble in the 4th inning, allowing 2 runs courtesy of Ozzie Albies and newly-converted outfielder Orlando Arcia. López would later allow a solo home run to shortstop Dansby Swanson in his 6th and final inning. Swanson would add another home run in the 9th, finishing the first half with 15 long balls in what would be his 4th career multi-homer game.
Fourth career multi-homer game for Dansby Swanson pic.twitter.com/17n9MGGskY— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) July 11, 2021
For the day, the Marlins’ right-hander would give the team 6 innings, striking out the aforementioned 9 hitters - again matching a career-high - allowing 3 runs, though, doing so economically on just 83 pitches. López concludes the first half with 3.03 ERA over 101 innings pitched, including a 2.26 ERA in 63.2 innings at home.
Picking up where López left off, the Marlins’ bullpen authored three innings of one-run ball.
Of the three relievers who pitched Sunday - Richard Bleier, Anthony Bass, and Anthony Bender - Bleier’s performance during the first half has been one of note. Since April 25th, when he entered play with a 5.40 ERA over his first 10 innings pitched, Bleier has allowed just 4 earned runs over his past 24.1 innings pitched (1.47 ERA).
Per Fish On The Farm’s Twitter account, 23 of Bleier’s last 27 outs have come via the ground ball, a stretch where he has allowed 0 runs, earned or unearned.
With the All-Star festivities set to commence Monday from Denver, Miami finishes the first slate of games at 39-50. Marlin fans can look forward to seeing Trevor Rogers in what will be his first All-Star game Tuesday.
As for the team, on the whole, the Marlins begin the second half of the season in Philadelphia when they open up with a doubleheader against the Phillies on Friday.
- Pablo López