In spite of a lot of things going against them, the Miami Marlins claimed two-of-three against the likely contending Philadelphia Phillies to open the season.
Prior to Sunday’s contest, starting pitcher Jose Ureña tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He was replaced on the hill by bullpen piece and spot-starter Robert Dugger. Ureña joined the Miami Marlins starting catcher, Jorge Alfaro on the inactive list due to the sickness. Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez are also now out with what clearly appears to be an outbreak on the team.
The top of the first would see Jonathan Villar get on with a dropped ball error on a failed 3-1 putout by Phillies starter Vince Velasquez. Velasquez then went on to pick off Villar.
It didn’t take very long for the Phillies to get in a groove against Dugger. They got to him for four runs in the first an another in the fourth before he was replaced by Stephen Tarpley (1-1, 5.40). Dugger lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up six hits and a walk, striking out two. The big shot was a first-inning, three-run job courtesy of Bryce Harper.
Going into the top of the second already trailing 4-0, the Miami Marlins didn’t seem to let it bother them too much. Jesus Aguilar opened with his second homer of the season. Brian Anderson took the very next pitch off his left shoulder blade and exchanged some words with ex-teammate J.T. Realmuto on his way to first base. Isan Diaz hit a one-out single for his first hit of the season, and Miguel Rojas drove them all home with his first home run of the season to tie the game at four. Magneuris Sierra got on with a walk, but he was picked off by Velasquez just as Villar the inning prior.
The Phillies got their lead back in the bottom of the inning when Adam Haseley scampered home on a Dugger wild pitch. Again the Marlins didn’t panic. With one out in the top half of the fourth, Diaz hit a single and Rojas tripled him home, then scored himself on a Sierra double. Miami added another three-spot to their lead in the fifth on Anderson’s first long-ball of the campaign.
With a solid four-run lead in the sixth, Miami got their fourth homer of the day on a Corey Dickerson solo shot. Haseley doubled home a run in the bottom of the inning, but Rojas scored on a Sierra triple in the seventh to set the final at 11-6.
After a shaky start by Dugger, it would be easy for last year’s model to call it in for the rest of the game, but these aren’t your father’s Marlins. Between six relievers, including Jordan Holloway’s major-league debut, the Marlins limited the Phils to one run over the final 5 2/3 innings despite surrendering six hits and six walks. The bullpen only struck out three Phillies, but they got them when they counted.
Offensively, Rojas continues his early-season tear, falling a double short of the cycle. In the first three games of the year, Rojas has gone seven-for-10 with a double, a triple, a homer, and five RBI. The Miami Marlins totaled a dozen hits in the game, with two base hits each from Dickerson, Aguilar, Diaz, and Sierra.
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So for those of you keeping track, the Marlins hit four home runs and went 0-for-2 in stolen bases.
Rojas moved into a tie for 24th all-time on the Marlins leaderboard with Edgar Renteria with his 1742nd plate appearance. He also passed Jorge Cantu into 25th with his 1589th at bat. He tied Martin Prado in 34th with his 177th run scored, and tied Luis Castillo in 45th with his 20th Marlins homer.
Holloway became the 601st player to appear in a franchise regular season game. He joins Aguilar, Brad Boxberger, Francisco Cervelli, Dickerson, Yimi Garcia, Brandon Kintzler, Neidert, Tarpley, Alex Vesia, and Villar to make 11 for the 2020 season.
Next up on the slate for the Miami Marlins is their home-opener, set for Monday night at 7:10 PM EDT against the Baltimore Orioles. Pablo López will take the mound for the Marlins, opposite former Marlins-farmhand Asher Wojciechowski, who is coming off a 4-8 season with a 4.92 ERA over 16 starts last year.