CINCINNATI, Ohio—Two teams that have surprisingly found themselves in the NL Wild Card race this season haven’t been playing like playoff teams lately. The Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds had one combined win between them this past week entering Monday’s game. Something has to give, right? Well it gave for the Reds, as they used the long ball to win this one by a final score of 5-2.
Without Luis Arraez in front of him in the order, Jorge Soler wasted no time getting the Marlins on the board with s solo shot out to right center. The Marlins jumped out to a rare 1-0 lead in the first.
Newly recalled Eury Pérez worked his magic for awhile, retiring the first seven batters before he found trouble. Pérez walked Will Benson, who then stole a base to get into scoring position. Elly De La Cruz would also walk, which set up TJ Friedl to clear the bases with a 2 RBI triple. Reds took the lead, 2-1.
It would only get worse from there for Pérez. Needing to bounce back in the 4th inning, he’d give up a homer on the very first pitch to fellow rookie Christian Encarnacion-Strand. 3-1, Reds.
Immediately after, Joey Votto turned back the clock against an opponent barely half his age. Back-to-back jacks made it 4-1, Reds.
With Pérez not yet fully stretched out for starting duty, he worked himself out of the game after 4 2/3 innings pitched. His final line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR. Some good, some bad. More on his outing later.
The bleeding would stop temporarily, until TJ Friedl advanced from first to third on a stolen base and an E-2 from Nick Fortes, who had an abysmal night behind the dish. Friedl would score on a sacrifice fly from Spencer Steer, making it 5-1.
With lefty Brandon Williamson out of the game, Jazz Chisholm Jr. returned from a right hamstring cramp to pinch-hit for Fortes in the eighth. He came back with a bang, as he sent one out to left field to try and claw back a bit, making the score 5-2.
This would prove to be pretty insignificant, though, as despite a mini 9th-inning rally, the Marlins would drop the series opener.
Eury’s return spoiled
Eury Pérez came out of the gate like a man with something to prove. He retired the first seven batters he faced and struck out four of the first six he faced.
Sandy Alcantara before the game said, “Tonight, you’re going to see who (Pérez) was in the first half.” He looked like that same guy early on.
However, his confidence seemingly diminished after the first baserunner he allowed. He began nibbling instead of trusting his stuff in the strike zone. The Reds adjusted accordingly.
Still, most of the numbers on his pitches were great. He favored his fastball and slider a lot. Against a team with bats that can wake up at any second, it’s not truly disappointing to see Eury get beat up by the Reds. Nick Fortes didn’t exactly set him up for success with his pitch-calling and poor throwing. Regardless, they’ll get another go at it next Sunday against the Yankees in Miami.
Offensive struggles return
Coming into this series, the Marlins have averaged 3.52 runs per game since the All-Star break. That’s the worst number in baseball in that timeframe. They had a stretch tonight where 17 of 18 batters were retired and only had three total hits against Brandon Williamson (two of those in the seventh inning). A frustrated Avisaíl García got ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Skip Schumaker got tossed too later in the contest.
The offense has been embarrassing, plain and simple. No adjustments have been made, especially against left-handed pitchers.
“I think they’re all different types of starters, none of them are the same pitcher,” Skip said. “We’ll keep preaching swinging at strikes. The gameplan is good, we just haven’t gotten that big hit to put runs on the board.”
The team acquired two good hitters at the deadline, but watching them on most nights, you wouldn’t be able to tell. No serious playoff contender should be trotting out García, Yuli Gurriel, Nick Fortes, and Joey Wendle from sixth to ninth in the batting order. It’s that simple.
The Marlins will continue this three-game set Tuesday night at 6:40 p.m. on Bally Sports Florida and the Bally Sports app. I will be back at the ballpark to recap as well.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images