Cueto shines in return, bats erupt in 9th, but Baltimore holds on for victory.
Staring down the barrel of a potential sweep at the hands of a surging Baltimore Orioles club, Sunday would be a bullpen day for the Marlins pitching staff. To their dismay, opener Steven Okert—starting his first game since 2019 when he was pitching in AAA—failed to set the tone in a positive direction, allowing 3 runs before recording an out. The Orioles led the rest of the way, securing a 5-4 victory and a sweep of Miami.
Back-to-back doubles off the bats of Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman would plate Baltimore’s opening salvo. Three hitter Anthony Santander, doing his best Vladimir Guerrero Sr. impression, deposited a slider a good three inches below the strike zone over the center field wall for a two-run home run. Okert’s day would be done after recording all of just 1 out.
In relief of Okert, George Soriano would extinguish the 1st-inning flames, only needing 4 pitches to record the final two outs. Though his command would abandon him by way of back-to-back hit by pitches and a walk in the bottom of the 4th, Soriano would give Miami 3-plus innings, allowing 2 unearned runs without surrendering a hit.
Of the two runs surrendered at the hands of Soriano, the first (Baltimore’s fourth) would come around to score on a James McCann ground ball misplayed by shortstop Joey Wendle.
The Orioles would add one more in the 4th when Henderson plated Colton Cowser with a sacrifice fly to right.
Undoubtedly the best story for Miami, and maybe the entire weekend, was the triumphant return of Johnny Cueto.
Pitching just 1 inning in an April 3 start against the Mets before missing 3 1/2 months with biceps and ankle injuries, Cueto returned to the tune of 3 scoreless innings. Sufficed to say this was more than encouraging considering what Cueto had done in his 7 rehab starts. The 37-year-old Cueto pitched to a 10.24 ERA over 29 MiLB innings, allowing 49 hits while surrendering a staggeringly-high 16 home runs while working his way back from injury.
“He attacked…velocity was up 93-94. Changeup was good,” said manager Skip Schumaker.
To Schumaker’s point, Cueto registered 13 fastballs 93.0-plus mph, topping out at 93.7. Quite a contrast from the veteran’s AAA outings—his fastball velo maxed out at 92.4 for Jacksonville. Perhaps it was the adrenaline of competing at the highest level, or a byproduct of being able to “air it out” in a relief role rather than having to pace himself.
Making his first career start against Miami, Kyle Bradish proved pristine, limiting the Fish to just 3 hits over 7 1/3 shutout innings to pick up his 6th win of the season.
Batting in the top of the 9th, though, the Marlins—still trailing by 5—would turn things on in a big way.
Segura would immediately race home on a Jon Berti single to cut the deficit to 2 before Dane Myers capped off a 3-for-3 day with an RBI double to score Berti. In doing so, Myers became the 11th player in Marlins history to hit at least .400 in his first 9 games with the club (he’s at .406).
However, Miami’s hopes of a comeback would be squashed when Luis Arraez (0-for-5, K) flew out to left to end the afternoon.
With the loss, the Marlins fall to 21-8 in one-run games, and 53-42 overall.
- Santander’s 1st inning home run was the 100th of his career.
- With the loss, Miami’s run differential now sits at minus-10 through 95 games played.
- Wacky stat line: George Soriano became just the 15th pitcher since 1901 and first since 1990 to pitch at least 3 hitless innings while allowing 2 or more unearned runs, but 0 earned runs.
Things, at least on paper, look to get easier for Miami moving forward. They’ll travel to St. Louis to matchup against the Cardinals, who the Marlins took 3 of 4 from July 3-6.
Skip Schumaker and Co. will turn to Jesús Luzardo (8-5, 3.29 ERA) in Monday’s series opener. Against St. Louis on July 4, Luzardo worked 6 scoreless frames en route to his 7th win of the season in a 15-3 Miami rousting. First pitch from Busch Stadium is slated for 7:45 EST.