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MIA 3, WSH 2: Fish escape with Fourth win in DC

The Marlins were led to victory on Monday by a couple of their youngest players.

Braxton Garrett #60 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the second inning during a baseball game against Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

My 2022 Marlins skepticism has been largely fueled by a combination of the team’s June/July schedule and key injuries. I feared situations like Monday, in the middle of a stretch of 30 games in 31 days, when Don Mattingly would simultaneously rest several important veteran bats and not have competent fill-ins to use. Mattingly’s getaway day lineup was as pathetic as expected...and the Marlins won anyway. Braxton Garrett’s remarkable outing and Bryan De La Cruz’s 10th-inning home run extended the club’s winning streak to five games, the longest of its kind in the National League.

Patrick Corbin entered the series finale having allowed more earned runs this season than any other MLB pitcher, on the heels of a 2021 campaign when he also allowed the most earned runs in baseball. The two-time All-Star is irrefutably over the hill, though not completely hopeless.

With the help of well-positioned defenders—or as some might say, “good luck”—Corbin limited Miami to just one run over seven innings.

That run was produced in the top of the third inning by some old-fashioned small ball. Luke Williams laid a great bunt down the third-base line for an easy single. Billy Hamilton followed with the first sacrifice bunt of the Marlins season—yes, they made it nearly three months without one! Williams stole third base during Miguel Rojas’ plate appearance, then with two outs, Jesús Aguilar scored him on a single.

Earlier in the day, I singled out Garrett as the Marlins starting pitcher who was most vulnerable to losing his rotation spot to Max Meyer. “If Garrett is anything short of dominant against the Nationals on Monday, Meyer should take his next turn in the rotation,” I wrote.

Dominant he was. The 24-year-old lefty gave the Marlins 7 13 brilliant innings, the longest outing of his professional career (majors or minors). Garrett utilized his entire pitch mix and got into favorable counts. He was efficient, throwing no more than 16 pitches in any inning. He kept his sliders down and his four-seam fastballs up and in to Washington’s righties, rarely leaving anything over the heart of the plate.

Baseball Savant

Garrett limited solid contact, and most of the exceptions were pounded straight into the ground.

The Nats finally scratched across a run to tie it at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth. Ehire Adrianza drew a walk, stole second base and scored on Luis García’s single to right field. Garrett had to settle for a no-decision.

Mattingly began utilizing his veteran-laden bench in the ninth—Joey Wendle and Avisaíl García entered to pinch-hit for Williams and Hamilton, respectively—but they couldn’t retake the lead.

Tanner Rainey was tasked with getting through the 10th inning while stranding the automatic runner and he nearly succeeded. Rainey got back-to-back strikeouts of Jesús Aguilar and Brian Anderson and made it look easy.

But with two outs, De La Cruz caught up with a fastball up in the zone. It was 98 miles per hour coming in and 109 miles per hour going out to left field—the only question was fair or foul. The fly ball clanked high off the foul pole to put the Fish in front, 3-1.

Bryan De La Cruz #14 of the Miami Marlins celebrates hitting a two run home run in the tenth inning Miguel Rojas #11 during a baseball game against Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 4, 2022 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Marlins’ usual high-leverage arms were unavailable after three consecutive days of work. Mattingly instead put the game’s fate in the hands of Zach Pop (eighth inning), Jimmy Yacabonis (ninth) and Dylan Floro (10th). Each of them were imperfect, but sweeping any road series is hard enough—who cares about style points?

For the third time this season, the Marlins won an extra-inning contest. All three of those wins have come against the lousy Nats.

Anything else?

  • It’s hard to overstate how lopsided the season series has been between these NL East rivals. The Marlins have scored more than twice as many runs as the Nats (69-32) in their 13 head-to-head games, and they are undefeated at Nationals Park.
  • Rojas’ lifetime ownership of Corbin is hysterical. In 14 games (41 plate appearances), he’s hitting .429 with five extra-base hits and only one strikeout.
  • Brian Anderson has long had reverse platoon splits (struggling against lefties), but he’s quietly bucking that trend this season. He entered Monday with a 157 wRC+ when hitting with the platoon advantage and that climbed even higher after recording two singles off of Corbin.
  • Tommy Nance has pitched only once over the last 13 games. The Marlins clearly do not trust him and it is inexplicable that he remains on their active roster when he still has minor league options.

Don Mattingly’s Postgame Press Conference

Win Probability Chart - Marlins @ Nationals

The Marlins return to Miami for one of their shortest homestands ever, hosting the Angels for a two-game series. Sandy Alcantara and Noah Syndergaard are probable starting pitchers for the series opener on Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. Leading the Halos will be interim-interim-interim manager Bill Hasselman, who ordinarily serves as the club’s catching coach (regular interim manager Phil Nevin and bench coach Ray Montgomery are serving suspensions).