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'Star' Marte's late HR wins it in Marlins debut

@JesseSanchezMLB
September 1, 2020

It’s hard to have a better first day at the new office than Starling Marte just did. The newly acquired outfielder hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning in Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Along the way, he pushed the Marlins above .500 for the

It’s hard to have a better first day at the new office than Starling Marte just did.

The newly acquired outfielder hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning in Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Along the way, he pushed the Marlins above .500 for the season (16-15) and helped snap their eight-game losing streak at home.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Marte is the second player in Marlins history to hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later in his club debut (also, Miguel Cabrera).

Box score

Marte will wake up Wednesday for his second day of work with his new team on a two-game winning streak and three games behind the Braves (21-14) for the top spot in the National League East standings. Miami is tied with Philadelphia (16-15) for second in the division.

This is exactly why the Marlins acquired Marte from the D-backs.

“This guy is a star talent, and he’s been in Pittsburgh where maybe he's not getting the attention and was behind [Andrew] McCutchen a little bit there for a couple of years, but this guy is a major talent,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “If he was in a city like New York or a place where they're getting to the playoffs all the time or L.A., it'd be a different animal. This guy's a star.”

The Marlins acquired Marte on Monday, and he was in Miami by Tuesday morning. By the afternoon, the club's new everyday center fielder was slotted into the starting lineup and batting second. A few hours later, he was the game’s hero.

Marte finished 1-for-4, with his first hit as a Marlins coming off Shun Yamaguchi with the game tied at 2. Marte’s homer traveled a projected 438 feet, with an exit velocity of 107.7 mph, according to Statcast.

“Once I hit the ball and felt the energy, I knew it was gone,” Marte said. “When I got to the dugout, it was great to enjoy the guys and feel their support. It was a great moment.”

Marte’s impact was immediate. The hope for the Marlins is that he can help carry them through October. He’s slashing .310/.380/.460 with an .841 OPS. Miami is in the bottom third in OBP and slugging, so he can help there.

The acquisition of Marte before Monday's Trade Deadline helped answer one of the questions about the club’s roster construction. More issues surfaced Tuesday.

Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez was removed in the third inning with a sore right lat muscle. Later in the game, starting shortstop Miguel Rojas was replaced by rookie Jazz Chisholm (MLB debut) to start the eighth because of a sore abdomen.

Hernandez is scheduled to receive an MRI Wednesday, and there’s a chance he’ll miss his next start. Rojas is listed as day to day.

But for all of Marte’s heroics, Miami’s bullpen also deserves some credit. Josh A. Smith took over for Hernandez and was charged with one run on three hits and two walks in four innings. Richard Bleier followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Brandon Kintzler pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save.

Jon Berti, facing his former organization, tied the game at 1 with a homer in the third. The Blue Jays pulled ahead, 2-1, on a pair of hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly the following inning.

But Marlins designated hitter Garrett Cooper tied the game at 2 with an RBI double -- his fourth of the season -- in the sixth.

It was a team win and quite a start for the Marte era in Miami. The next step is getting to know their new outfielder off of the field. The Marlins already know what he can do on the field.

“He seems to be a quiet guy,” Mattingly said. “We don't really know him that well yet. Everything we've heard is that he’s a quiet guy. And what those guys bring is that they can play.”

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.