The Miami Marlins will kick off the latest home opener in MLB history tonight at 7:10PM EDT, against the Atlanta Braves.
Although “home” and “away” teams have never been less important in the context of home-field advantage, the Marlins previous latest home opener was on April 25, 1995. In that one, the Miami Marlins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers by an 8-7 final, despite Terry Pendleton and Jeff Conine going deep.
With a dozen games in the bank, the surprising Miami Marlins sit at 8-4, good for first place in the National League East Division. Of course, that counts a two-for-three performance against the Philadelphia Phillies, a team the Marlins have recently done well against; a four-game sweep against the Baltimore Orioles, possibly the only team worse than the Marlins last season; the New York Mets, who won their series two-games-to-one; and a split against the still-mediocre-but-rising Toronto Blue Jays.
The Atlanta Braves represent a formidable challenge to these Miami Marlins. A bad performance by the good guys and everyone will say, “See? I told you it was just a matter of time!” A good performance, however, could turn some heads and win some minds and hearts.
Remember, these are mostly the same Atlanta Braves that won 15-of-19 from the Miami Marlins in 2019. The last time these two met, on August 22 of last year, the Braves got to Ryne Stanek late, winning 3-2. The heroics undid a superb outing by Sandy Alcantara, who struck out seven and allowed only three hits, two walks, and an unearned run in seven innings.
Although a lot of things have changed in the 12 months since that game, the Braves remain heavily favored. One of the things that have changed is the Marlins lineup. Of today’s starters, only Jon Berti and Brian Anderson started that last matchup nearly a year ago. Magneuris Sierra, at least, was on the team, and Eddy Alvarez was in the organization. Jonathan Villar, Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson, Matt Joyce, and Francisco Cervelli were not.
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Meanwhile, although the Braves have a lot more continuity from last season, due to not having the COVID-19 virus ravage their clubhouse, they’re only starting one player from the last Marlins-Braves matchup, Freddie Freeman. At least I think so — they’ve yet to make public their lineup card as of the time of this writing.
Can the Marlins get out in front of the odds-on-N.L. East favorite quickly? That may be their best bet. Miami’s bullpen has been a surprising source of strength in 2020 thus far. Pablo Lopez can be counted on to start and pitch five innings, usually no more and no less.
Thanks for reading. Whatever happens, keep checking here for the latest Miami Marlins news and rumors.