Amid shopping for upgrades, Marlins win late

July 29th, 2023

MIAMI -- For the first time in seven years, the Marlins are buyers at the Trade Deadline. Each game is magnified. Scoreboard watching is a daily occurrence. 

General manager Kim Ng got a head start by acquiring closer David Robertson and former All-Star closer Jorge López earlier this week, and she might not be done. 

“I think these couple of moves were really good moves,” Ng said. “Are we content? I'm not sure we're ever content, but again, during this time, it's easy to get emotional, and I know the club hasn't done well the last couple of weeks. But like I said in another interview, it's not a good time to get emotional. It's the worst time, in fact, and you just have to really be steady and convicted in how you want to approach this and stick to your guns.”

Until Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET deadline, there’s business to attend to on the field. After watching another late lead disappear, the Marlins bounced back with two runs in the eighth and held on in the ninth for Friday night’s 6-5 victory over the Tigers at loanDepot park.

Since opening the second half with eight straight losses, the Marlins have won three of four. With late games being played on the West Coast, Miami (56-48) was tied with Cincinnati for a National League Wild Card spot.

“There's no such thing as an ugly win,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “I think there's ugly losses. But I will take any win. It was getting close. It's hard to win in the Major Leagues. It just is, and once you think it's locked down, something happens, right? And it's just really hard to win.”

While Ng and her staff continue to monitor the starting-pitching market, left-hander Braxton Garrett got back on track against Detroit. Garrett, who had scuffled in his first two starts since the All-Star break (11.74 ERA), completed six innings for the first time since June 22. 

The 25-year-old Garrett saw increased velocity on his pitches, perhaps due to extra time in between starts because of the club’s two off-days this week. His lone run allowed came in the fourth, when third baseman Jean Segura’s fielding error scored Javier Báez from first. 

“Today was a good bounce-back,” said Garrett, who had a 3.70 first-half ERA. “I just want to continue to do that, as I did earlier in the year, just give my team a chance to win. As you said, we're in a race here. First time I've ever been in a race of any sort professionally, so it's really exciting. [It] gets the juices flowing a little bit more, maybe puts a little bit more pressure, but I feel like I pitch a little bit better when I'm more nervous, weirdly.”

Unfortunately, the bullpen’s struggles continued (4.23 ERA in second half) with new closer Robertson not scheduled to arrive until Saturday. 

In the seventh, Huascar Brazoban recorded two outs but allowed a baserunner. Schumaker turned to southpaw Tanner Scott against left-handed hitter Riley Greene, but not only did Scott allow a steal, but he also walked Greene. Spencer Torkelson followed with an RBI single to trim Detroit’s deficit to 4-2.

Scott would then exit in the eighth with a mild right calf strain trying to cover first base on Báez’s one-out hit. JT Chargois took over, and he walked a batter before surrendering Nick Maton’s game-tying two-run double.

Despite Friday’s bullpen results, Scott and Schumaker are optimistic moving forward because the front office’s additions send the message that it believes in the ballclub.

“I got a new locker mate, so it's nice,” Scott said while pointing to Robertson’s locker inside the clubhouse. “It's good to have him with us, and then [López] I know from Baltimore. So it's great to see. We're going to be good, and we're going to make a push.”

Miami’s lineup picked up the bullpen in the bottom half of the frame. Jesús Sánchez and Yuli Gurriel singled, and Jon Berti produced the go-ahead RBI knock. Joey Wendle provided insurance with a sacrifice fly to center, which proved critical after A.J. Puk surrendered a run in the ninth.

During the first 10 games of the second half, the Marlins averaged just 2.9 runs. They have combined for 13 runs in the past two -- both wins.

“I just think the focus needs to go up,” Wendle said of the playoff push. “We're constantly talking about just preparing well, going back to your training. When the moment gets too big, we’ve got to just keep it small and go back to our training. I don't think we've got to do anything special. I don't think we should be any more tense. Just continue to play good Marlins baseball, good clean ball, and I think if we do that from here on out, we're going to be in a good spot.”