Wacky Wednesday for Marlins as they win on walk-off WP

July 14th, 2022

MIAMI -- Which of the following is true in regard to the Marlins’ wacky 5-4 walk-off victory in 10 innings over the Pirates on Wednesday night at loanDepot park?

A) Avisaíl García collected his first hit with the bases loaded this season.
B) Tanner Scott blew his third save of the month.
C) Bryan De La Cruz was tagged out on Billy Hamilton’s bunt.
D) Jesús Aguilar scored the winning run on a wild pitch with two outs.
E) All of the above.

If you answered E, you likely tuned in for Miami's sixth victory via a walk-off wild pitch in franchise history.

Was it pretty baseball? Absolutely not. But after dropping the first two games of the series, the Marlins desperately needed to right the ship and improved to four games back of the final National League Wild Card spot.

“At the end of the day, it's one of those that a lot of stuff early didn't look great, and then all of a sudden we get a couple of runs, Avi gets a big hit there that gives us the lead, and then we give that back and then everything unfolds at the end,” manager Don Mattingly said. “But at the end of the day, a win, it's something we need, so let's go get one tomorrow and move on.”

A) Miami picked up its first lead in the series thanks to wildness from Duane Underwood Jr. With two outs in the eighth, Jon Berti sandwiched a walk between Joey Wendle and Aguilar hit-by-pitches. That set up a prime opportunity for García, Miami’s marquee offseason signing who has shown signs of life at the plate of late.

After taking a middle-middle, 95.7 mph sinker, García turned on a cutter and sent it into center field for a two-run single that made it 2-1.

“I was looking for a strike,” said García, who also had a go-ahead, ninth-inning homer two weeks ago in St. Louis. “I've been chasing too much this past week, just looking for strikes and not trying to do too much and using my backside. I was jumping too much, so I just tried to stay there and see the ball. If it's a strike, it's a strike. If I like it, I like it. If not, I just leave it, so that's what I'm working on right now. That's what I'm looking for.”

B) But the lead was short lived, as Scott’s penchant for wildness resurfaced in the ninth.

This month, Scott has recorded five saves and blown three. He has at least one walk in five of those outings. On Wednesday, he issued free passes to consecutive batters before Michael Chavis knocked the game-tying double. If there’s any silver lining, Scott was able to record three straight outs, giving the Marlins a chance to walk it off in the ninth.

“I'm not quite sure what to do with it,” Mattingly said of possibly changing closers. “It’s always interesting. Right now, it's not the time to sit here and go, ‘OK, we're going to switch and flip the coin for the next guy, and then if he blows one we're going to move to the next guy.' He's got the kind of stuff to do it. It's really a matter of him being in the zone. If he's not walking people, he's getting saves. His stuff's as good as anyone's.”

C) Knowing they needed to score two runs to tie the game in the 10th, the last thing the Marlins needed was an out on the bases. That’s exactly what happened when De La Cruz -- the placed runner -- was tagged for the first out on Hamilton’s attempt at a bunt hit. Instead of the bases loaded, Miami had runners at first and second. Luckily, Jon Berti and Aguilar produced back-to-back RBI singles to knot the score at 4.

D) Aguilar, who last week recorded the first stolen base of his MLB career to snap a dubious streak, entered Wednesday in the third percentile for sprint speed (24.1 ft/sec compared to 27 ft/sec league average).

Naturally, it was him representing the winning run at third when All-Star closer David Bednar’s first-pitch curveball got away from catcher Jason Delay. Aguilar shuffled a couple of paces before bolting home at 24.2 ft/sec when he heard voices shouting for him to “go, go, go.”

Delay’s throw sailed wide of Bednar, as Aguilar remained upright. He initially didn’t touch home plate, circling back to do so.

“[Third-base coach Al] Pedrique told me to go ahead and keep going, and [Jesús] Sanchez was giving me the sign, and I was very lucky,” Aguilar said.