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MIA 6, CLE 1; Bullpen lifts Miami to series-opening victory

In a game many wrote the Marlins off, this bullpen showed just how much it has improved this season.

Miami Marlins v Cleveland Guardians - Game One Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

CLEVELAND, Ohio—For the 62nd time in the 30-year history of the franchise, the Marlins are playing a doubleheader. They’ve previously swept 11 of them and the opportunity to do so again on Saturday is still alive thanks to a stellar outing from the bullpen and a massive seventh inning that gave the Marlins a 6-1 win over the Guardians.

The Game

After a scoreless first, the Marlins were able to get things going in the second, which started with a long Bryan De La Cruz at-bat that eventually ended in a walk. With one out, Jean Segura was able to put a ball past Cleveland second baseman Andres Gimenez for a single. De La Cruz got a good jump on a steal attempt, which allowed him to advance to third. Yuli Gurriel got his first hit in 10 days on a single to left field, which scored De La Cruz and advanced Segura to third, thanks to his steal attempt. 1-0, Marlins.

The Marlins weren’t done yet in the top of the second, as Jacob Stallings was able to reach on an error from Guardians shortstop Amed Rosario, which allowed Jean Segura to score. 2-0, Marlins.

Devin Smeltzer went all the way until the fourth inning before allowing a run, as Amed Rosario was able to reach on an infield single, then was scored on a double from Josh Bell. That extends Josh Bell’s hit streak to eight games, which was needed after a rocky start to the season for him. This wiped the doughnut off the board for the Guardians, as they trailed 2-1.

After four innings, that was it for Devin Smeltzer. He did exactly what he needed to for the Marlins, as he finished with a final line of 4 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 3 K, WP, and 65 pitches thrown. Exactly what the doctor ordered for Miami after Sandy Alcantara was scratched on short notice.

Miami Marlins v Cleveland Guardians - Game One Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Run support continued to pile in for Smeltzer, as Bryan De La Cruz hit his second homer of the season with one out in the 6th, this one coming off Shane Bieber. That extends De La Cruz’s hit streak to eight. Keep an eye on this for the next game he plays, as the longest hitting streak of his career stands at nine games.

A Jean Segura double in the sixth took Shane Bieber out of the game. He didn’t have his usual stuff today, finishing with a line of 5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, and 103 pitches.

Andrew Nardi was the one to come in to relieve Smeltzer, and he took care of business. Nardi faced four batters and retired four batters while striking out two of them. With only 17 pitches thrown, he showed how efficient this Marlins bullpen has become.

The seventh inning for Miami was a weight off the bullpen’s shoulders, as the run support piled in. Berti walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Jazz Chisholm Jr. Soler also drew a walk, as both Berti and Soler advanced to second and third, respectively, on a passed ball. Who other than Luis Arraez brought them in on a 2 RBI single?

That’s 5-1, Marlins. De La Cruz also continued his excellent season at the plate with a double off the wall, which advanced Arraez to third. Avisail Garcia broke out of his slump, driving in Arraez on an RBI single. 6-1, Marlins.

That would be it for the scoring in this one, with the Marlins’ bullpen closing this one out in style, en route to a 6-1 win and an 11-9 record on the season.

Smeltzer throws a gem as the opener

How about Devin? That was the bounce-back game he needed after getting hit hard in Philadelphia and against the Giants on Wednesday. His career numbers against the Guardians remain strong, and more importantly, this helped his argument for staying on the Marlins active roster moving forward. Given his success with the Twins against the Guardians, I asked Smeltzer about the added familiarity of facing Cleveland again. “I felt like every time I got called up with the Twins, it was against Cleveland,” Smeltzer continued, “Even with some of the new names in the lineup this season, they’ve kind of plugged in replacements with the same approaches and swings, so it wasn’t that big of an adjustment. It feels like a second home with the number of times I’ve pitched here,” Smeltzer stated.

Gurriel and Segura bounce back

Gurriel was able to reach base for the first time since the Marlins’ extra-innings win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 12. Gurriel’s RBI single in the second and walks in the fourth and sixth innings were enough to raise his OBP to .342. Jean Segura also reached base in the second with a single, while reaching home for the Marlins’ second run of the game as well. He hit his first extra-base hit as a Marlin in the sixth, which forced Shane Bieber out of the game.

De La Cruz’s hot start

Look at Bryan De La Cruz picking up where he left off from last season! He’s currently slashing .288/.338/.356 and looks very comfortable in the middle of the Marlins' order. As previously mentioned, he extended his hit streak to eight games and looks to tie his career-high of a nine-game hitting streak.

Anything Else?

  • Arraez worked an 11-pitch at-bat in the top of the third, which resulted in a walk. He attempted to steal second base and was caught, ending a stretch of 15 stolen base attempts where the Marlins didn’t get caught. It was only the team’s third caught stealing of the season.
  • Steven Okert pitched the ninth inning, making his 2023 Marlins debut after spending the previous several weeks on the injured list (left abductor strain).
  • The Marlins now are 8-0 when they score first and are 9-0 when leading after seven innings. All gas, no brakes for this team.
  • They’re also now 10-5 when they hit a home run. They’ve done well when hitting the long ball.
  • As for my favorite stat that I’ve updated at the end of every single game recently, the Marlins are 11-0 this season when allowing 4 or fewer runs, while they sit at 0-9 when allowing 5 or more runs.

What’s Next?

The Marlins will play Game 2 of the doubleheader at 8:15 p.m. It can be seen on Bally Sports Florida. Braxton Garrett will take the mound for the Marlins, while Zach Plesac will have the bump for the Guardians.