Marlins Win Big after Diamondbacks Have Disastrous Eighth Inning

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Marlins 9, Diamondbacks 3

After losing an early three-run lead, the Miami Marlins rode a six-run eighth inning to a 9-3 victory over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday night.

Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson, returning from a stint on the injured list, hit a three-run homer in the first. Center fielder Lewis Brinson added one of his own in the eighth, pacing the Marlins to the win.

The Diamondbacks got some good news on Monday, as first baseman Christian Walker and outfielder Tim Locastro returned from the injured list. That news became bittersweet as right-handed starter Merrill Kelly had to go on the injured list moments before first pitch. It did not affect who started the game for them, as Riley Smith was the scheduled starter the entire time.

Marlins Take Early Lead over Diamondbacks

Smith retired the first two batters of the game before walking left fielder Corey Dickerson and allowing a single to right fielder Adam Duvall. Third baseman Brian Anderson, in his first at-bat since returning from the injured list, then jacked a three-run home run to right, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead.

The Diamondbacks chipped away at this lead with a solo home run by Josh Rojas in the top of the fifth, his fourth homer in five games. They added another in the top of the sixth after a leadoff single by Walker. The next hitter — David Peralta — hit a grounder to second baseman Isan Diaz. His throw to second sailed into left field, rolling past the line and all the way to the wall in foul ground. Walker scored easily as Peralta cruised to second.

Diamondbacks Tie Marlins but Don’t Take Full Advantage

The top of the eighth showed promise. Peralta led off with a walk against new pitcher Anthony Bass and left for a pinch-runner, Locastro. A single by Carson Kelly put Locastro on second and brought Daulton Varsho in to run for Kelly. Locastro scored as Varsho advanced to second on a follow-up single by Eduardo Escobar. When Nick Ahmed tried to sacrifice them to second and third, an errant throw by the catcher allowed Ahmed to reach, loading the bases for the red-hot Josh Rojas.

Left-handed sinkerballer Richard Bleier came in from the pen to face Rojas. He struck Rojas out, doing the same to pinch-hitter Wyatt Mathisen and leadoff man Pavin Smith. This got the Marlins out of the bases loaded, no out jam without allowing any further runs. “He was cutting and sinking on each edge of the plate,” said Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo. “(Bleier) is a ground ball pitcher. He was in the game for a reason…. The anticipation is that we’re going to put the ball on the ground, and they’re going to be able to turn a double play…to minimize damage. So, we were looking for elevated balls but got a little too aggressive.”

A sorely disappointed Josh Rojas lamented his bases-loaded strikeout. “I thought about that at-bat for a while after the game,” Rojas said. “(I knew) his slider would be for chase, so I had to be aggressive to that sinker. He spotted me up really well…. (On the last pitch), I was trying to stay through the middle as best I could. I ended up sitting on it a little too long, and I was late on that last sinker…that was painted right at the bottom of the zone.”

The Wheels Come Off

With the game tied, 3–3, instead of the Diamondbacks holding a lead, the Marlins still had a chance. Boy, did they make the Diamondbacks pay. Kevin Ginkel surrendered a lead-off double to Miguel Rojas and an RBI single to Jesus Aguilar. Dickerson followed with a rocket over the bag at first. Walker knocked it down, but the ball rolled past the first-base coach’s box on an angle toward the right-field side. Walker gathered the ball and flipped it toward Ginkel covering the bag. It went over Ginkel’s head and into the infield between home and the mound. New catcher Stephen Vogt scooped it up near the mound and fired to third on the run. The slow-footed Aguilar would have been out by several feet, but Vogt airmailed Asdrubal Cabrera. As the ball rolled to the fence outside left field, Aguilar scored, and Dickerson reached second.

Ginkel fanned Duvall before giving way to lefty Alex Young. He intentionally walked Brian Anderson to put a force at any base before retiring Diaz on a fly to left. That brought up Lewis Brinson, who hit a deep drive to right-center. It carried over the fence for a three-run dagger, his first home run of the year. With the score now 8-3, Young surrendered singles to the next three hitters to give the Marlins their ninth and final run. Aguilar, the 11th hitter of the inning, struck out to mercifully retire the side.

The Diamondbacks went down in order in the ninth via two strikeouts and a popup to short. With the loss, they dropped to 15–14 on the season as the Marlins improved to 12–16. Bleier (2-0) earned the win in relief, while Ginkel (0-1) took the relief loss.

Luke Weaver (1-2, 4.91 ERA) will take the hill for the Diamondbacks Wednesday to try and even the series. The Marlins starter is still TBD. First pitch is at 3:40 Arizona Time.

Postgame Reflections

Lovullo said that the team, despite falling behind early by three runs, “showed a lot of fight.” The overall feeling in the dugout was that they felt they were going to have “a really big inning” in the eighth. However, the Marlins “did a really good job executing and protecting what they could, and it ended up being a tie game.”

He was “proud of the way the guys fought.” Furthermore, “Riley (Smith) did a really nice job after it was 3–0 in the bottom of the first for the final four innings of his outing. He got through five and got a chance to win a baseball game. To me, that’s what starting pitching is all about.” Lovullo mentioned several offensive highlights, including the Rojas homer, Cabrera having three hits, and Escobar having two hits. “We had traffic out there later in the game.” He continued, “We had our chances, but, unfortunately, that’s the name of the game when you don’t take advantage of them.”

The play Stephen Vogt had to make was highly unusual, but he refused to let that be an excuse. “I have to be a better athlete than that,” he said. “All that is is athleticism. I rushed the throw. Should have gone over the top. I had time to do that and tried to make a quick flip throw to third.” He was blunt about the result. “I made a horrible throw…. It’s inexcusable — led to a huge inning, and I’m going to wear it for a while tonight.”

Moving On

“This one definitely hurts,” Vogt continued. “When you feel like you put your team behind the eight ball, and it led to a big inning that took us out of the game, it’s going to hurt. But I’ve made mistakes before. I’ve made big errors before. This is nothing new, but it never feels good. It hurts.”

Part of sports is learning from a mistake but not dwelling on it. Vogt knew he could do so regardless of the magnitude. He grinned as he said, “I have my kids waiting for me at the hotel. They’re going to scream ‘Daddy!’ and give me a big hug no matter what. They don’t care if I make errors.”

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Players/managers mentioned:
Brian Anderson, Lewis Brinson, Christian Walker, Tim Locastro, Merrill Kelly, Riley Smith, Corey Dickerson, Adam Duvall, Josh Rojas, David Peralta, Isan Diaz, Anthony Bass, Carson Kelly, Daulton Varsho, Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed, Richard Bleier, Wyatt Mathisen, Pavin Smith, Torey Lovullo, Kevin Ginkel, Miguel Rojas, Jesus Aguilar, Stephen Vogt, Alex Young, Luke Weaver, Asdrubal Cabrera