I don’t want to overemphasize the importance of a lone game in April, but kicking off Miami’s home stand with the team’s first victory in Marlins Park was a real boost to the team and fans. A lingering wait for a home victory would likely add to the distractions. Even though the Marlins subsequently lost Saturday’s tilt with the Astros in a 9th inning disaster, getting a win Friday was an important start to the weekend.
The Marlins had scored three runs combined in four of the five losses on the season entering Friday’s game with the Astros. The wins saw Miami averaging over 6 runs per game – it has been feast or famine for the Fish. Friday was a bit closer to feast, and the timing was right.
With a park-opening disappointing loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the struggles to score, and the Ozzie Guillen mess, it was important to get the home stand off to a good start. If casual fans are waiting for the Marlins to deliver on the promise of changes, and the future, Friday’s win definitely helped.
Extra innings, the Marlins scoring some runs, and Heath Bell playing with fire in the 9th. Bell walked the bases loaded before getting out of the jam to keep the Marlins tied. First baseman Gaby Sanchez, struggling at 3-for-24 to start the season, collected three hits – including the game-winning double off the left field wall in the bottom of the 11th inning. Nothing like a stadium full of cheering fans to help turn the team’s mood around. A year ago, you might have seen 15,000 fans at the old park, instead of the 30,000+ Miami enjoyed last night.
In a city where the fans can often be fickle, it was good not to wait too long to get that first home win, and make it an exciting finish, to boot. Schedule-wise, there is no time like the present to start winning. The schedule in September will not be easy, with the Braves and Phillies showing up twice each, in addition to the Nats and Brewers. So getting off to a decent start in April, and not falling behind will be important for the team in contending for a playoff berth.
Finally, after spending several days dealing with the Ozzie Guillen controversy, it gave the Marlins, and fans something else to think about for one night.
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