This Marlins team is on another planet right now.
Behind two early runs and a superb by-committee pitching performance, Miami swept the doubleheader, took the series, and moved to 5-1 in 2020 with a 2-1 win in Baltimore Wednesday night.
Josh A. Smith made his Marlins debut and started for the Fish, and although he only lasted two innings, he received some immediate help in the form of run support from his teammates.
After Jonathan Villar walked in Miami’s first plate appearance of the night, utility man Jon Berti, who got the start at second base for the Fish, laced a double into the left-field corner to put the Marlins in prime position to take an early lead.
Legendary Fish power hitter Jesus Aguilar, who joined Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd as the only players in franchise history to hit three homers in his first four games with the team, followed Berti and nearly left the yard again with a long fly ball to the warning track. It was more than deep enough to chase home the speedy Villar to put Miami on top 1-0.
But Miami wasn’t done just yet in the first inning. Brian Anderson, who of all places played his first regular season game as a pro (yes, minors and majors) at first base Wednesday night, produced a two-out RBI single to score Berti and make in 2-0 in favor of the ‘home team’ Marlins.
That turned out to be all the runs the Marlins needed Wednesday night. Just like the first two games of the series, Miami’s pitching was absolute nails. Between three shutout innings in Philly, along with two dominant shutouts to begin the series with the Orioles, Miami carried a remarkable 19-inning scoreless pitching streak into the sixth inning Wednesday. If a high chopper didn’t squeeze its way between Eddy Alvarez and Villar, that streak would still be alive at this moment.
Nevertheless, it was an outstanding night of pitching. Smith handed the baton to another pitcher who was pitching for the Fish for the first time: Sterling Sharp, who was also making his big league debut. He kept the scoreless streak alive with 1 2⁄3 innings in relief.
“We expect to win” said skipper Don Mattingly after Tuesday’s series-opening win. He wasn’t kidding, either. Miami is 5-1 for the fifth time in franchise history. Considering the circumstances, that is nothing short of incredible.
Jordan Yamamoto makes his first start of the season for the Marlins on Thursday. The club will be seeking its first sweep of a four-game series since April 25-28, 2016 (at the Dodgers). At the same time, Mattingly can break a tie with Jack McKeon for most managerial wins in Marlins history. Miami will once again be the home team in the series finale, which is set to begin at 7:35 p.m.