The Marlins solid early season continued Saturday with two more victories, as Miami divided up into two different squads and took on the Cardinals and the Mets. Kevin Slowey got the Marlins off to a great start against the Mets, as he was on point with his fastball, locating it well and rolling through New York hitters in his two innings of work. Austin Barnes got the Marlins on the board with a solo home run in the third. Lucas Duda answered with a solo shot of his own an inning later.
Miami began to pull away with a run in the 5th, and really blew the game open with 5 runs in the 6th. The inning was highlighted by a Reed Johnson 2-run single and an Austin Barnes 2-run single. Barnes had a stellar day at the plate as did Matt Angle, and the Marlins never looked back on their way to a 9-1 victory.
The Marlins game against the Cardinals was just a little more exciting than their counterparts in Port St. Lucie. Miami fell behind early on an RBI triple by Randal Grichuk off Nathan Eovaldi. Other than that hit, Eovaldi pitched well on the day. The Marlins responded pushing across 3 runs in the 4th inning, as the heart of the order came through with hits by Stanton, Jones, Salty, and Ozuna. Miami held that lead until the top of the seventh inning, when errors and poor fielding cost the Marlins 2 runs. St. Louis eventually tied the game on a Scott Moore home run in the 8th inning, setting up the dramatics for the bottom of the ninth.
After the Cardinals secured two quick outs, catcher J.T. Realmuto singled into right field. Danny Black followed that up with a walk that brought the winning run into scoring position. Second baseman Avery Romero played the hero role to perfection, hitting a frozen rope into left field that brought home Realmuto easily, winning the game for the Fish.
Also during the St. Louis game, we got our first glimpse of top prospect Andrew Heaney. He pitched well during his two innings, showing maturity and working out of some tough spots. I would have liked to see him challenge the hitters a little more, particularly with no one on base, but I still felt that it was a strong outing for the young lefty.
The Marlins are one of 5 teams that are still undefeated this spring, and while spring records are not indicative of a teams upcoming season, I truly believe that it is important for this young team to experience winning. Winning is contagious, and the culture in Miami needs to change from one that expects failure, to win that expects to win games, particularly close games like today’s.
The alternative to a fast start this spring would be a slow one, and that would be very detrimental to the psyche of this team at this stage. I have been impressed with the maturity of the players so far, and it is obvious that they have been working hard this offseason. Even though it is early, this spring could not have gotten off to a better start.