The Marlins Won’t Stop Swimming

The Marlins began September three games out of playoff position. They’ve overcome a lot to erase that deficit, entering Saturday only one win away from clinching.

You won’t catch this Marlins team feeling sorry for themselves.

They didn’t feel sorry for themselves when they lost their ace in Sandy Alcantara to a UCL strain in early September, or when they lost potential National League batting champion Luis Arraez to an ankle sprain in mid-September, or when they sat through a 3-hour, 17-minute rain delay at Citi Field that finally concluded at 12:58 a.m. before flying to Pittsburgh for a game that started 17.5 hours later.

It’s been a sloppy September for the Marlins off the field, through no fault of their own. But they’ve chosen to look at it positively.

“Embrace the adversity,” Marlins utility man Garrett Hampson said to the media prior to Friday’s victory. “I think this group does a really good job with that. I mean, we’ve had some scenarios this year—weather or travel—things just don’t go our way. But we seem to handle it well. So we’re going to do that again (this weekend).” 

After Miami’s game was suspended on Thursday night/Friday morning, they had to hop on a quick flight to Pittsburgh that landed at 4:04 a.m. They arrived at their team hotel at 4:36. Multiple players told the media prior to the game that they didn’t get to bed until as late as 6 a.m. Marlins manager Skip Schumaker didn’t want to admit it prior to the game, but he knew his team was feeling the effects of fatigue after their eventful morning.

It took until the eighth inning for the Marlins offense to finally wake up. Down 3-0 with a runner at first, Luis Arraez was called to pinch hit for his first appearance since Sept. 23. He delivered a single through the left side of the infield and was immediately pinch-run for. That jump started a four-run inning that included RBI hits from infielders Jake Burger and Josh Bell, and a go-ahead sacrifice fly from center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr.

“I’ve been proud of them all year,” Schumaker said after Friday’s victory. “We’ve done this all year long. We were lethargic, tired. I tried to not say that earlier, but you could tell. I was tired, and I don’t do anything. I just do a couple of signs. So I know that they felt it. For them to come back again, the bullpen was excellent, providing so many good innings, keeping us in the game like they always have, I don’t know what to even say. It feels like those games happen every other day.”

If it was up to Schumaker, the Marlins would have gutted through the inclement weather to complete their game against the Mets. After the grounds crew started pulling the tarp off the infield shortly after midnight, the first-year manager went onto the field to help them pull it off even further.

“He kind of embodies what this team is,” Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings said. “You know, resilient, tough. And we draw a lot from the vibes he gives off. We get a lot of our edge from him and we just feed off of it. I think that’s why we’re in the position that we’re in.”

After the game was supsended, Hampson said the mental turnaround to focus on the Pittsburgh series was immediate.

“(Schumaker) just said we got to be ready, we got to go to Pittsburgh, and we got to try to put it behind us, whatever just happened,” Hampson said. “It’s in the past. We can’t take it back. So we got three games here that we need to focus on and treat them like a must-win.”

Hampson added: “He’s a great leader. He’s what you want leading a group of men. And I mean, we all love him. We have a lot of respect for him and want to play hard and win for him.”

This has perhaps been the toughest month the Marlins have faced this season—deflating injuries, bizarre weather issues and a stretch of 16 consecutive games without any days off. Yet, their .640 win percentage (16-9) makes this their second-most successful month in 2023.

“I just feel like this team kind of thrives when adversity hits,” Stallings said. “I feel like we kind of just rise to the occasion. We’ve got a really good group of guys and we’ve kind of been doing it all year. So we’ve just got to do it this weekend as well.”

Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

2 responses to “The Marlins Won’t Stop Swimming”

  1. Go Fish

  2. Writing it down here. The Marlins clinch today! Thank you Fish on First for everything! Looking for an exciting postseason.

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