In a late-July tuneup for the truncated 2020 campaign, the Miami Marlins dropped a 10-9 decision to the Atlanta Braves.
First of all, it has to be said that this game didn’t “count.” For me, though, it absolutely did. The Miami Marlins showed a lot of what we were hoping for during the long December that was the COVID-cancelled first two-thirds of the season. For a more in-depth look, I provided in-game recaps here and here.
It was noted by the Fox broadcast team of Paul Severino and Todd Hollandsworth that the Miami Marlins had an average launch angle of 8.1 percent in 2019, the lowest such mark in the major leagues. By contrast, the Minnesota Twins led the majors with a average launch angle of 14.2 percent. One of the Marlins coaching acquisitions during the offseason was former Twins hitting coach James Rowson.
We can’t really surmise everything from one preseason contest, but if the early results are any indication, the Miami Marlins will be a lot more interesting to watch in 2020. Most of the positive impact could be seen in the first four pitches of the third inning, when Jorge Alfaro, Miguel Rojas, and Jonathan Villar went deep back-to-back-to-back. The three players combined to go seven-for-nine in the contest. Later on, Jesus Sánchez took Braves reliever Chad Sobotka deep for Miami’s fourth shot of the night.
Not only did Jorge Alfaro go two-for-two with a solo homer, his backup Francisco Cervelli showed pretty decent catching chops in his five innings of defensive work. Cervelli was one-for-two with a pair of RBI from the plate and added an incredible Johnny Bench-like snipe of Dansby Swanson trying to steal second base in the fifth inning.
Although the season is “only” 60 games, we can count on seeing the backup catcher probably start between 15 and 18 times. 34-year-old Cervelli seems poised to carry the torch vacated by Bryan Holaday.
Miami Marlins Has Good Pitching, and….”other” Pitching
After Jose Ureña held the Atlanta Braves scoreless through his three-inning start, the Miami Marlins trotted out a conga line of pitchers, one for each of the next four innings.
Yimi Garcia and Brandon Kintzler each faced the minimum in the fourth and fifth, respectively, with three strikeouts between them. Nick Neidert pitched a clean seventh, allowing a one-out single to Yonder Alonso but striking out Charlie Culbertson and not allowing a run.
Alex Vesia came into the game to pitch the ninth, and struck out Braden Shewmake on three pitches and Michael Harris on five. He was really cruising along there at a brisk pace of play when Matt Adams clobbered one deep and clinched the 10-9 win for Atlanta.
Ureña, Garcia, Kintzler, and Neidert totaled six innings and allowed four hits and two walks for no runs.
Jeff Brigham was the first pitcher the Braves could score on. Freddie Freeman drew a two-out four-pitch walk, then came home on a Marcell Ozuna double. Brigham ended it one batter later, but the run remained. Brigham was hardly the problem.
Robert Dugger ran into some trouble in the eighth, allowing a pair of one-out walks followed by RBI-singles from Freeman and Michael Harris. After collecting only one out he was relieved by Marlins lefty Adam Conley.
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Once a promising young starter, Conley has settled into a relief role from the start of the 2018 season. In tonight’s game, he walked Matt Adams to load the bases, then threw a wild pitch to plate Freeman and walked Yonder Alonso to reload them. Conley followed by surrendering a three-RBI double to Culbertson and a RBI-double to Drew Waters.
Conley got William Contreras swinging on three pitches to register his first and only out, then gave up an RBI-single to Adam Duvall to give the Braves a 9-8 lead.
Dugger and Conley surrendered a total of eight runs between them, on five hits, four walks, and a wild pitch — while collecting a grand total of two outs. Brad Boxberger was called in to clean up the mess, and whiffed Yangervis Solarte looking at strike three.
Again it didn’t count, but it kind of did. It was entertaining, that’s for sure. They’ll do it again tomorrow. Thanks for reading.