If the Miami Marlins current three-game winning streak is any indication of the direction manager Don Mattingly is leading this ballclub, things could get interesting in the second half of this season.
There is no chance for the Miami Marlins, 6-5 winners over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night and now 42-57 on the season, to make the playoffs. But there is enough of a resume the past 41 games (20-21) to think this team could play spoiler for other organizations looking to get to the postseason.
Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Derek Dietrich’s second career multi-home run game accounted for four runs. Miami also got seven strong innings from Dan Straily, his fifth straight quality start in the victory. Reliever Adam Conley got his first save of the season.
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"“I think the first [homer] was huge [by Dietrich], because it got us on the board,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Nate [Eovaldi] was throwing the ball really well. It seemed like he had us on our heels, overpowering us a little bit.”"
The Marlins have been able to withstand potential comebacks by opponents, mainly because the pitching has been better the past month and a half and the team is becoming more consistent at the plate. Having Dietrich, who is having the best season of his career, come up big at the right time, has been a theme for this organization after a disastrous 5-17 start to the season.
“The other time Dietrich hit two home runs in a game came at Cincinnati on June 20, 2015,” Frisaro wrote. “Dietrich was a second-round pick of the Rays in 2010, and before the ’13 season, he was dealt to the Marlins for Yunel Escobar. Friday marked the first time that Dietrich homered in 16 career games against Tampa Bay.”
This is the kind of second-half start Miami
needed after toiling at the bottom of the National League East for the majority of the first half of the season. They are percentage points ahead of the New York Mets, currently in fourth place.
Miami’s ability to protect a lead is important since the Rays fought back to come within one run of tying the game. Kyle Barraclough was ill and did not attend the game. The bullpen did bend but did not break. With the MLB trade deadline only 10 days away, having other relievers come in and play an important role late in ballgames is vital to the growth of the pitching staff.
"“[Barraclough] wasn’t feeling good,” Mattingly said. “I found out before the game, he was kind of sick to his stomach all day long. I think he came in to maybe get some medication, and we sent him back to the hotel. He wasn’t a guy we could use tonight.”"
The Marlins and the Rays play their second of a three-game series on Saturday at Tropicana Field at 6:10 p.m.