When the Marlins went into the All-Star break on July 9th, they were flying (or swimming) higher than they had in a good while. At 53-39, the team sat firmly in 2nd place in the NL East while maintaining the top NL Wild Card spot.
In the 38 games that followed, Miami sank to what felt like 20,000 leagues under the sea, going on a dismal 12-26 run entering play Sunday, regressing to that of a .500 team at 65-65. When the club then has to use a bullpen game in their attempts to remain above .500, it truly shows a team currently running on fumes.
Fortunately, this edition of the Marlins bullpen game went in their favor, with Miami taking the series finale against the recently fun-to-watch Nationals, 2-1, keeping the team a game above-.500 at 66-65.
Having made 7 starts previously this season, Hoeing proved a worthy option to give the Marlins much-needed length, and he did just that, striking out 5 in 4 innings of 1-run ball. The right-hander would start the 6th inning before exiting after a Joey Meneses come backer hit off his left foot, though manager Skip Schumaker confirmed Steven Okert was set to face to Smith for the left-on-left matchup.
“It was huge…To have Hoeing go four was huge. It really set us up,” noted Schumaker.
Hoeing’s only real adversity came in a top of 3rd that saw the Nationals have runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. For his and Miami’s sake, the damage would be limited to Washington’s one and only run coming on a Dominic Smith RBI groundout.
The Nationals lead would be short-lived, however, as Jorge Soler launched his 35th home run into the Auto Nation Alley section of loanDepot Park to put Miami ahead 2-1. It was the 19th of his long balls that have given the Marlins a lead.
Following the Soler blast, a pitcher’s duel it would be. Miami would go just 2-for-19 the rest of the way, while the Nats would muster a mere 3 hits in their last 20 at-bats.
Making for the only real blemish on his otherwise strong outing, Washington’s Trevor Williams worked 7-innings of 5-hit ball, striking out 5.
A.J. Puk would work around a 1st and 2nd two-out jam in the 7th before Andrew Nardi authored a perfect 8th. Since last blowing the save that ultimately cost him his closer’s role on July 30, Puk has quietly been among the club’s more consistent relievers, allowing just 1 run over 9.2 innings.
Confirming speculation that arose following the news that recently acquired David Robertson was out as closer, left-hander Tanner Scott (inarguably Miami’s best reliever all season) was tasked with the final three outs. And as has been the case in the second half, things would be anything but easy.
After retiring pinch-hitter Alex Call to begin the frame, back-to-back singles from Keibert Ruiz and Ildemaro Vargas put the Nationals in position to force a bottom of the 9th. Jacob Young, up to bat in his first big league start, rolled over to third base on a Scott slider to force a 5-4-3 double play to seal the win for Miami.
- Jorge Soler’s 35th home run Sunday made for just the 6th time in franchise history that a player had crossed that threshold in a single-season, joining Gary Sheffield (42 in 1996), Marcell Ozuna (37 in 2017), and Giancarlo Stanton, who did it three times from 2012-17.
- At 66-65, the 2023 Marlins are just the 14th team since 1901 to be above .500 through their first 131 games while posting a run differential of at least -40. Miami will enter play Tuesday having been outscored 526-574 (-48).
Following Monday’s scheduled off-day, the Marlins will welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Miami for a brief two-game set.
Due to a recent shuffling of the rotation, Sandy Alcantara (6-11, 4.16 ERA) will face the Rays for the first time since throwing a complete game against them on July 26. That was originally set to be Jesús Luzardo‘s turn in the rotation, but he’ll go Wednesday instead. Tampa Bay will counter Alcantara with Aaron Civale (6-3, 2.59 ERA) in what will be his first career appearance against Miami.
First pitch from loanDepot Park is slated for 6:40 EST.
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images