Pablo López Miami Marlins

Miami, Florida – Pablo López was absolutely dealing for the Miami Marlins, striking out a career-high eight batters to help the Fish win 8-2 over the Atlanta Braves Friday. Scattering seven hits, the right-hander kept the visitors firmly under control. It was the Marlins’ first real home game of the season after over three very long weeks on the road. 

Hitting for contact

Miami was firing on all cylinders, flexing small ball and aggressive baserunning. The Braves jumped ahead with a homer by Travis d’Arnaud in the first but it was short-lived. Jonathan Villar evened it up with an RBI double and Brian Anderson drew a bases-loaded walk to take the lead. Atlanta briefly tied it up with a run-scoring double from Adam Duvall in the fourth but a sac bunt by Magneuris Sierra swung it back to the Fish. A short time later Miami pulled off a double steal courtesy of Villar and Jon Berti, adding more to the score.

The defense was on full display, executing terrific plays to halt any sort of a rally by the opposing team. The fifth inning saw the Braves threatening with the bases juiced but BA’s terrific barehanded play threw out Marcell Ozuna at first.

 

Shifting to the sixth Matt Joyce generated a Sportscenter Top 10 web gem, making a terrific sliding catch in the left-field corner robbing Johan Camargo of at least a double. He made an encore the following frame, a diving catch denying Ender Inciarte of an extra-base hit. Sierra, meanwhile, showed a good example of putting pressure for the extra-base hit. In the home half of the inning, he set up Camargo into focusing on the runner at third, turning a single into a double. Moves like these are what help build a big inning at the plate. A sac fly from Jesús Aguilar coupled with an RBI single by Corey Dickerson made it a 6-2 game.

Aguilar blew the game wider with a bases-loaded hit, deflecting the ball off Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson to drive home two more runs. Having a day off brought back a fresh bullpen that only allowed two hits in three innings of work, securing the first game of the weekend series.

A very long journey home

No one would’ve imagined this kind of home opener for the Marlins. Certainly not before the season. On July 27th the team received the latest test results, revealing a full-blown coronavirus outbreak. At its peak, the ballclub had as many as 20 cases involving players and coaches. If that weren’t enough, another cluster of COVID occurred in the St. Louis Cardinals.

Baseball was in jeopardy. However, once the wave of concern over the fate of the season passed, attention turned to the team’s outlook. Over half were quarantined, including star player Miguel Rojas. Miami’s bullpen was the most affected.

Scrambling to plug up the holes, the Fish relied on call-ups and acquisitions from the waiver wire bin. Cobbling together new faces and castaways from around the league, these players served as reinforcements. Some called them the Makeshift Marlins.

The long road back to Miami began.

During the early stages of the outbreak, the Washington Nationals voted in favor of not traveling to Miami. For eight days the team was held in Philadelphia. Players tried whatever the could to stay active in their hotel rooms. MLB made alterations to the schedule, having the Marlins play all four of their makeup games with the Orioles in Baltimore. This included the two games they were supposed to do in Miami. Their home opener wouldn’t be until August 14.

23 days and 12 games later the team not only showed it can compete, but also win. Overcoming adversity, they now sit atop the NL East. Few, if any, thought this is where Miami would be mid-August. Yet here we are. A bunch of MLB debuts has already made this a season to remember for several players.

Rejoice fans, the Marlins are back in South Florida. Home sweet home!

📸 Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

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Gabriel Garcia
Just an avid sports fan who happens to have a love-hate (mostly love) relationship with his local teams be it collegiate or professional and also happens to be a news junkie. Mix in outstanding optimism with cold realism and you've got yourself a balanced cocktail perfect for champions.

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