Miami Marlins: Learning from road-game success

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - AUGUST 11: Corey Dickerson #23 of the Miami Marlins makes contact with the ball during the first inning of an MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on August 11, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team due to their stadium situation and the Canadian government’s policy on COVID-19. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - AUGUST 11: Corey Dickerson #23 of the Miami Marlins makes contact with the ball during the first inning of an MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on August 11, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. The Blue Jays are the home team due to their stadium situation and the Canadian government’s policy on COVID-19. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins learned plenty of lessons while on their long road trip to start the 2020 MLB season.

The Miami Marlins will finally play a home baseball game at Marlins Park on Friday evening when they host the Atlanta Braves. After one of the wildest rides to start an MLB season, the team from South Florida is 8-4 and squarely in the middle of the playoff race.

If Don Mattingly’s team can learn anything from the 14-11 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night, it should be that no lead is safe and this is a team that can push back and fights through adversity.

There is plenty to be excited about with this roster, one that has been reshaped a time or two. The team has relied heavily on pitching over the first 11 games, but it was the team’s hitters who helped them escape with an extra-inning win to end their road trip.

"“We talked about this season, in general, before the season, that it was going to be different,” Mattingly said via MLB.com. “The team that could get past all of that stuff would have a better chance of surviving, knowing that you’re going to get tested, the protocols and everything else. When we talked about that, I had no visions of this type of trip.”"

No one could envision what has happened, being away from home, dealing with COVID-19, and relying on players who were added to the roster essentially on the fly. It has made for an interesting season so far and there are still 48 games to go.

This team is building on its success.

The Miami Marlins will send Pablo Lopez to the mound, who is being asked to serve as the team’s ace now that the first three starters in the rotation are still on I.L. This is the kind of season that could help Lopez establish himself as a workhorse starter after two seasons of injury issues.

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This is also a series the Marlins need to win to put distance between themselves and the Braves, who at 11-9 are one game behind in the standings. With a shortened season, head-to-head matchups are key to gaining potential home-field advantage in the postseason.

Mattingly is also hoping that by being home there will be more comfort for his players.

"“At home, at least you know you can step out on your porch and get some fresh air,” Mattingly said. “You don’t have to put a mask on. If you’ve got a backyard, you can get out without a mask.”"

The Miami Marlins have a three-game series with the Braves over the weekend and then start a four-game series with the New York Mets at Marlins Park before hitting the road again to face the Washington Nationals.

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