Miami, FL—Coming off one of the wackiest games I can recall, the Marlins looked to salvage a series split against the Pirates on Thursday afternoon with the park packed with campers. Braxton Garrett would toe the rubber against former Marlin Zach Thompson. And little did we know, we were in for another wild one.
Before the game even began, we had some wackiness carry over from last night. Jesús Sánchez was a late scratch from the lineup for a personal matter and was replaced in center field by Billy Hamilton. And then the game started. Bryan De La Cruz got caught on an in-between hop by Ke’Bryan Hayes, who ended up on third base with a one-out triple in the top of the first, but Braxton stranded him there.
If you thought the Marlins had a short bench with Garrett Cooper likely unavailable and Sánchez scratched, you’re in for a treat. Jon Berti led off the Marlins half of the first with a walk and was very slow to get up after stealing his 28th base of the season. Miguel Rojas grounded out, moving Berti to third, and Jon could be seen grabbing his legs and grimacing after stopping at third. He was checked on by the trainers, remained in the game, and was stranded at third by an Avi Garcia double play, he went down the tunnel, and Joey Wendle, who was supposed to get the day off, replaced him at second base. We later were informed that Berti suffered a mild left groin strain.
The game remained scoreless as both Garrett and Thompson worked around trouble multiple times until the bottom of the 5th. Billy Hamilton recorded his first hit as a Marlin with two outs and immediately asked for the ball. Joey Wendle came up with a clutch hit down the left field line for a double. The speedy Hamilton raced all the way from first and collided with the catcher who was blocking the plate. Billy seemed to get shaken up quite a bit by the collision and was attended to by trainers as he laid on his back next to the plate. He walked off under his own power with some blood on his left cheek and was cleared to return to center field for the top of the sixth. Oh, by the way, the Marlins challenged the play at the plate, and not only was Billy clearly safe, but the catcher was cited for blocking home plate. After all that, the Marlins had a 1-0 lead.
Braxton Garrett wasn’t ready to let that run go to waste. He struck out the side in the 6th to cap off a career-high 11-strikeout game. His final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 2 HBP, 102/67 P/S.
Anthony Bass worked around back-to-back singles with the help of his catcher, Nick Fortes, to work through a scoreless 7th inning. After only scoring one run off their former teammate through 6 innings, the Marlins went down quietly in the bottom half of the seventh. Steven Okert was called on to pitch the eighth inning with the Marlins still leading, 1-0. After striking out the first two batters looking, Okert gave up a single to Yoshi Tsutsugo, who came around to score when the next batter, Diego Castillo, lined one right at Brian Anderson, who could corral the funny hop, letting the ball roll all the way to the corner. Tie game, 1-1, a tough blown save charged to Steven Okert.
Sánchez took Hamilton’s place a la a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning and worked his way from a 0-2 count to a leadoff walk. Joey Wendle and Jesús Aguilar both hit singles to load the bases, but the Marlins failed to push a run home, with Avi García grounding into a 5-2-3 double play to end the inning. Tanner Scott took the mound for the top of the ninth inning, inducing a pop-out on his first pitch of the inning. He then walked the next batter, Oneil Cruz. During the following at-bat, Cruz attempted to steal second base and was thrown out by the catcher, Nick Fortes. In the attempt to slide in before Miguel Rojas could tag him, Cruz popped straight up into Miggy, causing his helmet to strike him directly in the mouth. The replay showed tooth fragments flying out of his mouth. Miggy grabbed his mouth and jogged straight down the tunnel. Don Mattingly later informed us that he went directly to the dentist.
The defense was in need of some shuffling. And after a few moments of Aguilar waiting for a non-firstbaseman's glove, he took up position at third base, with Joey Wendle moving from second to shortstop, Brian Anderson moving from third to second, and Garrett Cooper replacing Miggy in the order and playing first base. As one would expect, the next ball in play was hit directly at the newly appointed third baseman, who threw to the newly appointed second baseman for a fielder's choice out to end the inning. Tanner Scott bounced right back after the rough outing the night before, earning the first of today's redemption awards.
The Marlins left two men on in the bottom of the ninth, and for the second time in as many days, the Marlins and Pirates were heading to extra innings. Dylan Floro stranded the placed runner at third base with a 5-3 groundout, a lineout directly at the shifted Wendle, and a strikeout looking to keep the game tied heading to the bottom of the tenth. The Marlins were unable to push Sánchez home from second or third base, and the score remained tied at 1 into the 11th inning. Time to break out the extra scoresheets.
Richard Bleier took the mound for the top of the 11th and was unable to keep the placed runner from scoring, as Ben Gamel hit a one-out RBI double to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead. He intentionally walked Jake Marisnick, struck out Cruz, and got Michael Pérez to hit a groundball right back to the mound to limit the damage to just a single run.
And just when all hope was lost, García said, “hang on a second, folks, this game isn’t over yet.” He hit a single to move the placed runner, Aguilar, over to third base to give Brian Anderson a chance with men on the corners and no outs. The first pitch of the at-bat looked to have hit Brian in the hands and was called as such to load the bases. Or so we thought. The Pirates requested a crew chief review, and the call was overturned as the ball had actually hit the knob of his bat, foul ball. And Anderson decided it was his time to shine as he smacked a ball over the head of the shifted shortstop and into the right center field gap for a walk-off 2 RBI triple. Redemption award number 2 for the Marlins today. Marlins win 3-2.
Noah’s Notes and What’s Next
- That was the longest game of the season by a wide margin.
- First time going to the 11th inning this season for both squads.
- The blame rests solely in the hands of my younger brother, who in the third inning said to me, “Wow, this game is going by fast!” He’s probably not going to read this, so I can get away with this. (Dad, you can show it to him as long as you guys promise not to get mad!)
- Having to break out the extra scorecards when the game goes to the eleventh inning is highly annoying.
- Nick Fortes is a good catcher.
- The walk-off triple was Brian Anderson’s first triple since 2020.
- Sandy Day tomorrow as the Marlins start a crucial three-game set against the Phillies to wrap up the first half.
- Isaac Azout is on coverage tomorrow, but I’ll be back on Sunday for the finale.
- Now for the fun part: North-bound I95 traffic at 6 pm...
- Additionally, Pablo Lopez deserves an award for this Gatorade Bath.