Four Keys for Miami Marlins to Win Series After Opening Day Loss

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 28: Neil Walker #18 of the Miami Marlins hits a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Opening Day at Marlins Park on March 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 28: Neil Walker #18 of the Miami Marlins hits a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Opening Day at Marlins Park on March 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Opening Day has come and gone, and the Colorado Rockies took it to the Miami Marlins.

Kyle Freeland didn’t surrender a hit to the Miami Marlins until the fifth inning, and allowed only two through the entire game with 25,423 in attendance at Marlins Park.

One of those hits was the Marlins first long-ball of the season, a sixth-inning solo pinch -tater by JT Riddle. Hitting for power is not what these Marlins are built for, although they went deep three times today. Here’s what they need to work on to earn a split or better in this series.

Miami Marlins Fielding

The Marlins have been preaching it all spring. Fundamentals. Defense is important. The Rockies four-run fourth was aided in no small part by shoddy fielding on the part of mostly plus defensive players.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – MARCH 28: Lewis Brinson #9 and Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins take the field in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies during Opening Day at Marlins Park on March 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

After making 83 errors in 2018, ranking 21st in the majors, tonight the Marlins got a head start on the National League “error” title, if there is (or even should be) such a thing.

Miguel Rojas made a throwing error on a mostly routine play that allowed Trevor Story to get to first safely while moving a runner to third. A few batters later, now behind 1-0, Lewis Brinson let the ball pass under his glove and to the fence allowing a pair to score on a Ryan McMahon garden variety single.

Brinson can’t afford a repeat of last season, when he “led” the Major Leagues with nine outfield errors while hitting just .199.

Rattled

José Ureña worked a 1-2-3 first, allowed one baserunner in the second, then allowed two in the third. In the fourth, eight men came to bat and four scored. In addition to the aforementioned errors and the McMahon single, he also allowed a David Dahl single and a Chris Iannetta RBI-double to close the frame with a 4-0 lead.

As two of those runs were unearned, Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly let Ureña continue to work. After getting two quick outs to open the fifth, he surrendered a Trevor Story home run and back to back doubles to Dahl and Ian Desmond before getting lifted. The damage: 4 2/3 innings, six runs (four earned) on nine hits and a walk. He also struck out two and threw a wild pitch, getting 60-of-94 pitches into the strike zone.

Miami’s 2-3-4 guys, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez and Sandy Alcantara, are going to need to keep their wits about them over the next three days, and not get rattled when a few guys start getting on base. Even more effective would be to simply not let them get to first, but nobody’s perfect.

Bour Outage? Not Quite…

After losing Justin Bour to the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of last July, the only remaining power threat in the lineup was J.T. Realmuto, who later also joined the Phillies. Bour is now with the Los Angeles Angels, and the Miami Marlins have nobody who can go deep.

Except the Miami Marlins did go deep today, three times even. The only problem is that all three deep shots came with nobody on base. In addition to Riddle’s moon-shot off Freeland, Neil Walker smacked one off Scott Oberg in the eighth, and with two out in the ninth Jorge Alfaro took Seunghwan Oh deep.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – MARCH 28: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Opening Day at Marlins Park on March 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Maybe the biggest alarm bell went off for me when I realized that the Marlins only got three other baserunners all night. A Starlin Castro single, a Miguel Rojas walk, and Alfaro reached by getting HBP.

When half of your baserunners score via the long ball, I feel like you should probably win the game.

Bullpen Bullrush

After Ureña was relieved by Nick Anderson to close the fifth, the Miami Marlins relied on three more pitchers to get through the game. Anderson faced just one batter, getting McMahon to ground out.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – MARCH 28: Tayron Guerrero #56 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies during Opening Day at Marlins Park on March 28, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

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Tayron Guerrero pitched a perfect sixth, striking out a pair and not breaking 100 on the gun, opting for precision over power. It was a good look for him, and he put eight-of-10 over the plate. Austin Brice followed with two hitless innings, walking a pair and striking two out as well, and Tyler Kinley struck one out in a perfect inning.

Is the bullpen as deep as it is wide? Anderson, Guerrero, Brice, and Kinley were solid in relief today. Will Sergio Romo, Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen follow suit? The Marlins need them to, and they’ll be key if Miami plans to surprise anybody this season with a non-last-place finish.

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