On Friday, the Marlins kicked off “Miguel Cabrera Weekend” at LoanDepot Park, a two-day celebration of the retiring franchise icon. A storybook ending would’ve been to see Cabrera lead the Tigers to victory in his final trip to Miami, but Braxton Garrett and the Marlin’s offense spoiled his return as the Fish took game one of this three game set. Final score: 6-4, MIA.
Although the Marlins were able to tack on four runs throughout the course of the ballgame, Braxton Garrett had his best start since the All-Star break. He went six innings, struck out six, walked one and only gave up one run on five hits, which is exactly what the Marlins needed from their southpaw.
“Needed that start out of Brax,” said Miami Marlins manager Skip Schumaker. “He needed that probably personally too after a few rough ones in a row. He did a really good job. I thought his fastball command was great. Four-seamers looked really good. Some curveballs he just looks like the old Brax, the first-half Brax, and it was a really good sign for him and for us moving forward.”
Despite going deep into his pitch mix, Garrett saw an increase in velocity on all of his pitches, but most notably on his sinker, changeup, fastball and curveball. Braxton, who has only thrown his changeup 9.6% of the time entering Friday’s start, threw it 13 times, which was his third-most used pitch of the night.
“I’ve been kind of trying to get my arm out a little bit earlier,” said Garrett following the game. “I feel like when I struggle, my my hands kind of stick as I go down the mound and getting that arm out. Having enough above my shoulder at footstrike I think is huge as it creates more downward plane and I’ve been really trying to do that.”
Garrett was also on point when it came to his pitch location. Attacking all parts of the strikeout zone and some of those generated swing and miss. Five out of his six strikeouts were by swing and miss. Although Braxton didn’t go seven, he gave the Marlins exactly what they needed to then go with Huascar Brazoban.
The only run that the Alabama native gave up was to none other than former Florida Marlin Miguel Cabrera. In their first matchup, Garrett hit Cabrera with a breaking ball and received boos from the crowd. The next time up, Cabrera hit a ball to Jean Segura at 96.5 mph and reached second base on Segura’s fielding error. He still drove in Javier Baez, who had a base hit in his at-bat.
As for the Miami offense, Bryan De La Cruz, who found success in game two of the Tampa series, once again hit the ball well as he homered in his first at-bat to drive in two early runs. De La Cruz’s homer left the bat at 98.8 mph and went 398 feet into the air. That was De La Cruz 14th home run of the season, which is a career high for him. Miami led, 2-0.
It didn’t take long for Miami to score their third run of the night. The second inning began with a Jon Berti double which was then followed by Joey Wendle getting on base due to an error by Tigers second baseman Andy Ibañez. Then, the slowest RBI was hit by none other than Jean Segura. That was just enough to drive in Jon Berti and extend the Miami lead, 3-0. The ball left the bat at 72.9 mph.
Miami’s fourth run of the ballgame scored thanks to De La Cruz. He doubled to drive in Jorge Soler, who had hit a blooper hit in his at bat to get on first base. The ball left the bat at 93.5 mph.
When Brazoban entered the game for Miami, that is when the Tigers were able to make something happen. Jake Rogers got it going with a single followed by a Nick Maton single which put runners on first and second. Although he struck out former NL East foe Matt Vierling, Brazoban was taken out of the game and Tanner Scott entered the game. Spencer Torkelson, who had struck out three times before this at bat, smacked an RBI single to drive in Rogers and give the Tigers their second run of the game. Marlins still led, 4-2.
Although the Marlins were able to take an early 4-0 lead, it evaporated in the top of the eighth inning. After Tanner Scott allowed a base hit to Javy Baez, Scott was removed from the game due to a mild right calf strain he suffered while covering first base. JT Chargois then entered the game for Miami, but after walking Zach McKinstry, he gave up an RBI double to nine hitter Nick Maton who drove in both Baez and McKinstry to tie the game up at four apiece.
Thankfully, the Marlins were able to quickly bounce back and regain the lead. After Jesus Sanchez led the inning off with a base hit down the third base line, Yuli Gurriel smacked a base hit into right field to advance Sanchez to second and then replace him with speedster Garrett Hampson. Jon Berti got the big hit of the night, an RBI single to drive in Hampson and move Gurriel to third. Berti’s hit streak is now at nine games. Miami’s sixth run came thanks to a sac fly by Joey Wendle which drove in Gurriel to extend the Miami lead, 6-4.
“I was going back and forth on whether or not to bunt there,” said Schumaker. “It’s really hard to find the guy throwing 100 so I just kind of rolled the dice with the hot hitter and he’s just as good as anybody right now at the plate on our team and it’s tough to bunt your hottest hitter right now.”
Although things got a bit scary with A.J. Puk in the ninth inning, the Marlins were able to hold on.
Johnny Cueto will take the mound for the Marlins on Saturday and for Detroit, they have Beau Brieske who only has pitched in five games this season for the Tigers. The game will begin at 4:10 and Miguel Cabrera will once again be honored.