The unsung heroes of Miami's dominant win vs. Atlanta

September 17th, 2023

MIAMI -- Moments after thunder roared outside loanDepot park on Saturday night, Jake Burger and Jazz Chisholm Jr. gave the Dominican Republic Heritage Celebration crowd reason to make more noise than the storm.

Burger lined a go-ahead two-run homer and Chisholmcrushed the Marlins’ first grand slam of the season in the eighth inning of an 11-5 victory over the Braves. Luis Arraez and Yuli Gurriel also homered, as Miami secured the weekend series with a chance to sweep the National League East champions in Sunday’s finale.

“Even from the first at-bat on Luis’ home run, the atmosphere here is electric,” said Chisholm, who also stole three bases. “We love our fans, and they've been supporting us all year long, and we just want to keep on riding our wave and keep swimming, and hopefully they swim along with us.”

  • Games remaining (13): vs. ATL (1), vs. NYM (3), vs. MIL (3), at NYM (3), at PIT (3)
  • Standings update: The Marlins (77-72) trail the Reds (78-72) by a half-game for the final NL Wild Card spot. Although the D-backs (78-72) have the same record as the Reds, Cincinnati holds the tiebreaker over Arizona. Miami holds the first tiebreaker, based on head-to-head matchups, over Arizona (4-2). Having tied the season series (3-3) with Cincinnati, Miami (23-22 against the NL East) holds the second tiebreaker -- intradivisional record -- over Cincinnati (19-27 against the NL Central).

In manager Skip Schumaker’s opinion, the key to winning a series is receiving contributions from different players. Aside from Burger’s and Chisholm’s heroics, here are three less-heralded Marlins who helped them win their first set against the Braves since last October.

Hoeing, who recorded a 10-pitch outing on Thursday in Milwaukee, was tasked with providing as much length as possible in a bullpen game. Six pitches into the start, he had surrendered back-to-back homers and trailed 3-0.

During a mound visit, Arraez told Hoeing the team had his back. The Marlins erased the early deficit with a four-run first, while Hoeing went on to hold the Braves scoreless into the fifth.

The 26-year-old Hoeing entered Spring Training as a non-roster invite, then had his contract selected in late April. He has both started and relieved for the club. He has been optioned and recalled. Schumaker admitted he didn’t know how Miami would’ve gotten through the game without Hoeing going as long as he did.

“I think it shows that I can compete with the best,” Hoeing said. “It's my third time facing this team, one of the best offenses in baseball, and I was able to go out there and bounce back and at least provide 4 1/3 innings for our team.”

A two-time World Series champion with the Astros, Gurriel signed a Minor League deal during Spring Training. Serving as Garrett Cooper and now Josh Bell’s backup has been a new dynamic for Gurriel, who won the 2021 American League batting title. His 97 games are a career low for a full season. 

Due to a string of right-handed starters, Schumaker had been going with Arraez at first and Bell at designated hitter in Jorge Soler’s absence rather than spot starts for Gurriel.

With lefty Jared Shuster on the mound Saturday for Atlanta, Schumaker inserted Gurriel into the cleanup spot, where he blasted a three-run shot to put the Marlins ahead, 4-3, in the first. It marked his first homer since May 7. 

“It is difficult,” Gurriel said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. “Imagine a couple of days can just take your timing off. Imagine a week, right? So it's been a difficult thing to stay in shape. Imagine like today. I was hitting at home. I think that was something a little extra work that I was doing that keeps me a little more in the game. That's part of the job right now.”

Like Gurriel and Hoeing, Hampson was a non-roster invite to Spring Training after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Rockies. He has gone back and forth between the Minors and Majors.

Since being recalled on Aug. 23, Hampson is batting .333 with four extra-base hits and seven RBIs. In a platoon with left-handed-hitting Joey Wendle, the right-handed-hitting Hampson has started five of the Marlins’ past eight games at shortstop. He made a few nice defensive plays and produced a two-out RBI single on Saturday.

“I feel comfortable when he's at bat, and he keeps producing,” Schumaker said. “He's a smart baseball player, and he's a winning baseball player in my mind. He's made some nice plays at short, he takes competitive at-bats and helps you win games, and so that's kind of what you're looking for when you're building a roster.”