The Marlins and Padres began their long series at LoanDepot Park with an especially time-consuming opener on Thursday night. After nearly four hours of gameplay, the San Diegans did just enough to cling to a 3-2 victory. It was the 21st time in 2021 that the Fish have been defeat by a one-run margin.
The biggest factor contributing to the slow pace was an inability to throw strikes. The teams’ pitching staff combined for 14 walks, none of which were intentional. Jordan Holloway issued five of them to match his season-high in that category.
Anthony Bender “opened” the game for Holloway, becoming the 15th different Marlins pitcher to be used in a starting role this year (adding to what is already a franchise record). Facing the top of San Diego’s fearsome lineup and putting up a zero in the first inning has to be considered a positive development for Bender. He had been struggling for the better part of the month, inducing fewer swinging strikes while surrendering one or more hits in nearly every appearance.
Previously winless on the road this season with an earned run average north of nine in those games, Blake Snell resembled the superior Tampa Bay version of himself against Miami. Nearly one-third of his 92 pitches were called strikes or whiffs.
With the luxury of a 3-0 lead, Snell got the green light to stay in for the seventh inning. However, SD manager Jayce Tingler quickly reconsidered when Isan Díaz led off with a left-on-left double.
Next man up Jon Berti contributed to the rally in the most uncomfortable way imaginable: taking an Austin Adams fastball to the back of the head. Watch closely and you’ll see the helmet begin to fall off before the pitch arrived, leaving him without any protection.
The impact left Berti with a laceration, the Marlins said afterwards, and he’s been diagnosed with a concussion. Adams has plunked nearly 10% of all batters faced in 2021. His HBP total of 15 is MLB’s highest despite his relief-only role.
Reliever John Curtiss was selected to pinch-run for Berti. Curtiss would score for the first time as a major leaguer on Starling Marte’s bases-loaded walk, which brought the home team to within one run. Alas, Jesús Aguilar hit a lazy fly ball against Emilio Pagán for the final out.
In the aftermath of recent injuries to Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Garrett Cooper, the Marlins are making do with an extremely unbalanced roster: 15 pitchers and only 11 position players. That compelled Don Mattingly to double-switch Jorge Alfaro out of the game in the top of the fifth inning, hiding the pitcher’s spot while sacrificing Alfaro’s power potential.
Worth mentioning, Alfaro had difficulty receiving pitches from Holloway. He was charged with his 10th passed ball—which leads the majors—and let other pitches get through his legs and deflect off his glove.
After testing out his bruised shoulder in pregame fielding drills, Chisholm expressed optimism that he’ll be ready to return from the injured list next weekend.
Miguel Rojas drew three walks and has reached base in more than 40% of his trips to the plate since the All-Star break.
On a mostly quiet night for Fernando Tatís Jr., the star shortstop did steal second base and later score his National League-leading 75th run of the season. He has now accumulated 50 steals and 50 homers through his first 223 career games, becoming the fastest MLB player in the modern era to do so, according to Elias Sports.
Joe Musgrove and Zach Thompson will start on the mound for their respective teams on Friday night. Expect a Marlins roster move prior to the game, with Berti presumably landing on the 7-day concussion injured list and another position player being recalled in his place. Same 7:10 p.m. start time.