On paper, Saturday’s game two of the Marlins v. Astros series seemed like a mismatch judging by the starting pitchers (Braxton Garrett v. Framber Valdez). It looked even worse for Miami following the pregame news that Garrett Cooper was being placed on the COVID IL. But that’s why they play the games.
Miami all-right-handed lineup got it going right away in the top of the 2nd inning. With the help of Valdez’s shaky control and poor defense by Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña, the Marlins loaded the bases. Bryan De La Cruz drew a walk to score Jesús Aguilar, giving the them the early 1-0 lead. The bases stayed loaded for the 9th hitter Luke Williams. His RBI single extended the lead to 2-0.
Then Jon Berti drove in Willians Astudillo with a fielder’s choice.
The Marlins rallied again in the top of the 3rd. Jorge Soler was hit by a pitch and Jesús Aguilar followed with a ground-rule double. Miguel Rojas made it 4-0 with a fielder’s choice.
Valdez lived up to his reputation as a ground ball machine, but the Marlins found success with small ball and plate discipline. The Astros defense—Peña, in particular—didn’t offer him much help.
Framber leaned heavily on his breaking balls (curveball and slider). He racked up most of his 6 strikeouts on pitches in the strike zone. What the Marlins did a good job of was avoiding the temptation to chase outside the zone, therefore getting themselves into hitter-friendly counts.
Framber Valdez final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO, 97 NP (2.64 ERA this season)
The Houston offense was shut out until the bottom of the 5th inning. Jeremy Peña reached first base on an error from Jon Berti (Berti’s 1st of the season). Peña stole second base and scored on José Altuve’s double.
Overall, it was a great day for Braxton Garrett. He had everything working and showed a good amount of command as he attacked the strike zone at a high rate. Garrett only walked one batter, taking advantage of the aggressive Astros batters. His sinker and slider were the biggest keys for him, but he utilized his whole 5-pitch mix in different situations.
Braxton luckily was working almost the whole game with the lead—that seemed to keep him confident and relaxed. What a bounce-back start to show everybody that he deserves to stick around in the Marlins rotation.
Braxton Garrett final line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, 83 NP (4.00 ERA this season)
A 4-1 lead still didn’t feel totally comfortable. The Marlins added an insurance run in the top of the 9th inning when Luke Williams singled, stole 2nd and scored on a Jon Berti RBI single.
Willians Astudillo did just about everything on Saturday. Starting at 2nd base in place of Jazz Chisholm Jr., Astudillo went 1-for-2 with a run scored and his defense was pretty impressive. Chisholm came in for him at the end of the game.
Anthony Bass danced around a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the 7th inning.
Anthony Bass as a Marlin when pitching in the 7th inning:— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) June 11, 2022
1.17 ERA (38.1 IP)
Right-hander Aneurys Zabala was called up from Double-A Pensacola to take Garrett Cooper’s roster spot. For the time being, the Marlins roster has 14 pitchers and 12 position players (they usually like to do an even split of 13 and 13).
Exciting as it is that the Marlins have won 5 straight, their division rivals are even hotter. The Braves have won 10 in a row and the Phillies have won 9 in a row.
Don Mattingly’s Postgame Press Conference
Miami with the win moves to a 27-30 record (4th in the NL East and 6th in the NL Wild Card race). In the final game of the three-game set, Edward Cabrera will take the mound with a chance to sweep the series against Houston ace Justin Verlander. First pitch at 2:10 p.m. ET.