Miami, FL—A day that started off on shaky ground turns into an offensive explosion for the Fish. And they needed it badly. They got excellent pitching too! But before I break down what happened on the field, the extracurricular activities require addressing.
At approximately 3:15 pm this afternoon, all media and non-player/coach personnel were asked to leave the clubhouse 30 minutes early due to an unscheduled team meeting. Originally, the media were informed that they would be returning to the clubhouse shortly. That never happened. In fact, no one went in or out of the clubhouse for the next 90 minutes. When they finally emerged, there was a distinct lack of the usual joking around and smiling that is seen during stretches. Batting practice? Nope, the Nationals already started their own BP.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Don Mattingly got caught in a moment of brutal honesty. Without giving details of the meeting itself, Donnie said that he had called the meeting because there had been a pattern forming of strife among players and he wanted to put an end to it. According to him, the majority of the meeting consisted of players airing their grievances with other players and the coaches didn’t do much, if any, talking.
To hear Mattingly say he didn’t know one way or the other if the issues are resolved is concerning. From my experience team meetings are held usually to team bond. Definitely does not sound like this happened today.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) June 7, 2022
It couldn’t possibly get worse than that, right?
WRONG! Don Mattingly was quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the team came out tonight and was real flat.” He concluded by hinting at the matter not being fully resolved.
Oh boy: that can’t be good. No players would comment on the meeting. It was blatantly obvious during warmups that this wouldn’t be an ordinary game and had an extremely high chance of going terribly wrong. We were all left guessing as the teams took the field and the first pitch was thrown at 6:42 PM.
What happened in the following two hours and fifty-six minutes can be described with a myriad of adjectives, but “flat” was definitely NOT one of them. From the first pitch, every pitch held serious weight, and the players made it very clear that they weren't going to let any clubhouse division detract from the on-field product going forward. Every ground ball was fielded with 100% effort, every fly ball was tracked with determination and purpose. And EVERYONE chipped in for a marvelous display of pitching and hitting, which will hopefully be the start of a rebound in the standings.
Do I think that this win solved all the clubhouse issues? Not in the slightest. Does it help? Of course. But now that I’ve addressed the off-field shenanigans, let's get into the actual game, starting with the run prevention side of the ball.
EDWARD. CABRERA. Learn his name. He’s good.
His mixture of five different pitches—including a changeup that averaged 93 mph—was too much for the Nationals hitters to handle (besides Luis García, but we aren’t going to talk about that). He worked into and out of trouble a few times but only allowed one run, including a nerve-wracking sixth inning in which he stranded two runners after allowing a home run to Luis García. (Darn it, I said we weren’t talking about him!)
Besides for some wacky plays in the later innings, the Marlins defenders put on a show. Before being removed from the game with back tightness, Jesús Sánchez made a slick catch on a line drive to end the top of the second inning. His replacement, Bryan De La Cruz showed off his range in the fourth inning to rob Nelson Cruz of a hit.
Now for the offensive side. Remember what I said about coming out flat? I think scoring five runs in the second inning squashed any “flat” concerns, especially when it involves the bottom half of the lineup loading the bases for Jazz Chisholm Jr. The first-ever grand slam hit on a 3-0 pitch in Miami Marlins history changed the mood of the entire game, and they weren't done. Jazz ended up clobbering two home runs for a career-high six RBIs.
Nick Fortes had a solid night at the plate that included an RBI single, a three-run home run, and two walks...from the ninth spot in the lineup! If your nine-hole hitter is doing that, you're doing something right. You can’t convince me otherwise. Soler added on a home run of his own and seven players had at least a hit for the Marlins.
Don Mattingly’s Postgame Press Conference
- My record in the press box now improves to 2-8 (FINALLY).
- All runs but one were scored via a home run.
- Nick Fortes is sporting a batting average of .467. Highest mark in the majors this season among those who have played at least five games.
- The Marlins used every position player on their roster besides Jacob Stallings.
- Willians Astudillo struck out for the first time this season—it happened in his 19th plate appearance.
- The Marlins have scored 26 runs in support of Edward Cabrera through his first two starts since being called up.
- Miguel Rojas is a really good shortstop.
WHAT’S NEXT: Happy Sandy Day to all who celebrate! The Marlins have won each of the last five times that Alcantara has taken the mound. Isaac Azout and I will have your on-site coverage from the ballpark on Wednesday. Isaac will have the recap for you.