Let’s just call it what it is. The Miami Marlins have a winning streak following a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Saturday night.
Not only are the Miami Marlins now 43-57 through the first 100 games of the MLB season, they are one full game clear of the New York Mets and in fourth place in the National League East.
It’s the small victories that count in a season of rebuilding. For these Marlins, it also means they won the Citrus Series from the Rays and prove once again they can compete with playoff contenders.
There is still one game remaining in the series, to be played this afternoon at 1:10 p.m.
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Rookie pitcher Pablo Lopez turned in the best performance of his short career, pitching six strong innings while striking out six batters. That coupled with Cameron Maybin hitting a solo home run to give this ball club its third straight series victory.
This team, under the guidance of manager Don Mattingly, is taking baby steps by improving each game. While Lopez has been inconsistent in his previous two starts, looked like he was more comfortable on the mound, facing his cross-state rival.
Lopez gave up his lone run for the Marlins, a home run in the fourth inning.
"“He was really good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of his rookie right-hander in a story by Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “He was ahead in the count, and threw a lot of strikes.”"
Lopez threw only 89 pitches for the game, 57 were strikes. He hit one batter and walked one.
"“Making his fourth big league start since being called up from Triple-A New Orleans, Lopez last pitched on July 10 in a loss to the Brewers,” Frisaro added. “But from the start on Saturday, he was on point. In a clean first inning, the Venezuelan native threw 14 pitches, 12 for strikes, and his four-seam fastball topped at 95.5 mph.”"
Now, the Marlins come back with Trevor Richards for the Sunday matinee. The Marlins are now 21-21 in their last 42 games.
The road to the Major Leagues for Lopez began in Jacksonville with the Jumbo Shrimp. He dominated Double-A hitters and was promoted to New Orleans before making his MLB debut before the All-Star break. Now, he appears to be an established part of the team’s rotation.
It was the first time Lipez won (2-1) in 11 days. He talked about the game and how he was pleased with his pitching on Saturday night.
“It felt like a really long time,” Lopez said. “I’m happy to come back. It was an exciting game. I had great support from the team, both defensively and offensively, and we picked up a win.”
In addition to Maybin’s home run in the seventh inning, Martin Prado, playing as the designated hitter for the game, had two hits including an RBI double in the fifth inning.