The Miami Marlins kept our attention until the final play of the game.
Everybody loves a walkoff – and the Miami Marlins delivered in their home-opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night. And they did it wearing the magical 1997 Florida Marlins uniform. Lest anyone forget, the 1997 squad totaled 16 walkoff victories – this seasons’ bunch just racked up their second.
With a rowdy crowd of 8,867 on hand, the Marlins kept the score close until the ninth inning. They entered the final frame trailing the Snakes, 2-1. Garrett Cooper opened the inning with a double, then Neil Walker drew a five-pitch walk. Starlin Castro then singled to load the bases with nobody out.
Jorge Alfaro – who was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts to that point, came through with a deep drive into right field. Deep enough, anyway, to score pinch-runner Yadiel Rivera and move the potential game winner, Walker, to third.
After Arizona changed out reliever Greg Holland with Yoshihisa Hirano, Harold Ramirez drove an 0-1 pitch into right-center – far enough that a throw home wasn’t even attempted and Walker trotted in with the winner.
Sandy Alcantara‘s Quality Start
Sandy Alcantara had a pretty decent start. Unfortunately, he was matched up against former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. Greinke kept the Fish to four hits and one first inning run – on a Walker sacrifice fly. He struck out five.
Alcantara whiffed four and surrendered two runs on five hits and three walks over six innings. He put 63-of-102 over the plate, and finished with no decision.
A Big Relief
Jarlin Garcia came in to pitch a flawless seventh inning, striking one batter out. His ERA now sits at a comforting 2.59. after getting 8-of-12 in the zone. Trevor Richards came in to pitch the eighth with his first relief appearance of the season. He would not disappoint, striking out two and allowing one hit over a scoreless inning. He plated 12-of-18 offerings.
Pitching the ninth down by a run, Jose Quijada (1-3, 3.77) earned his first win thanks to the timely hitting. He pitched a hitless inning, walking one and striking out one. Although he only put 6-of-16 over the dish, he did enough to keep the bad guys bats’ quiet.
The Miami Marlins Small Ball Solution
None of the three players who collected an RBI in the game finished with as many as even one hit. The three combined to go 0-for-8 with a walk (Walker) and a pair of strikeouts (Alfaro). Getting it done where it counts was important tonight for these Miami Marlins.
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The ability to play small ball in the absence of consistent threat of home runs is important. Brian Anderson‘s 13 homers is, in fact, his career high. However, that number hardly strikes fear into opposing pitchers in a time when the Minnesota Twins just topped 200 homers much faster (18 games faster than the 2003 Texas Rangers) than anyone in history. The Marlins are one of just two major league teams with fewer than 100 home runs. The Detroit Tigers have 92, and Miami clocks in with only 81.
Of course, a solid small-ball plan requires a lot of smart base running -and the Miami Marlins don’t steal a lot of bases either. They’re tied for 27th in the majors with 28 – against 15 times they were caught stealing. For contrast, the Kansas City Royals have swiped 91, and 13 teams have over 50 steals already.
Academically, it’s good to know the Miami Marlins are still employing players capable of collecting multiple hits in some games. Miguel Rojas (two singles) and Garrett Cooper (single, double) each finished with a pair of hits. Cesar Puello added a double.
All that to say, the smart base running is going to continue to come into play, especially in the absence of power and speed.
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