Bye bye Berti! 2-homer game bolsters playoff quest

September 25th, 2023

MIAMI -- Three years ago, appeared in both games of the National League Wild Card Series as the Marlins swept the Cubs. He is the only position player remaining who contributed in that 2020 Wild Card series, when the club snapped a 17-year postseason drought.

Berti did his part in Miami’s latest quest to reach the playoffs by recording his second career multihomer game in a 6-1 win over Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. Josh Bell also added a home run, and the Marlins finished with a 46-35 home record -- the most single-season wins in loanDepot park history.

The Marlins (81-75) also clinched a .500 or better season for the first time in a non-shortened season since 2009, when they were still the Florida Marlins.

  • Games remaining: at NYM (3), at PIT (3)
  • Standings update: The Marlins (81-75) remain a game back of the Cubs (82-74) for the third NL Wild Card spot and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Reds (80-77). Miami holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Chicago, having taken four of six in the season series. Miami tied the season series (3-3) with Cincinnati, but the Marlins (25-24 against the NL East) hold the second tiebreaker -- intradivisional record -- over the Reds (20-29 against the NL Central).

“It is crazy to think about,” said Berti, who is the Marlins' longest-tenured position player. “Outside of the 2020 year, we really haven't had a lot of success since I've been here. This is what you play for, meaningful games in September down the stretch here, and we just have a really, really tight-knit group of guys here, and it just makes it that much more fun. We're just going to keep going.”

Berti and Bell each knocked a solo shot against righty Freddy Peralta, who surrendered four runs on nine hits across three innings. Two starts prior, Peralta held the Marlins to one run on two hits over 6 1/3 frames. That was part of a stretch since July 26 during which Peralta posted the second-lowest ERA (1.96) and batting average against (.157) among all MLB pitchers with at least 50 innings.

Berti later sent the 13th pitch of his fifth-inning at-bat over the right-center wall for a two-run homer off righty Julio Teheran. It marked Berti’s second career multihomer game and his first since May 4, 2022, against the D-backs.

When Miami signed Berti to a Minor League deal on Dec. 3, 2018 -- with just four big league games on his résumé -- it didn’t cause a wave. Since then, he has played all around the diamond and been MLB’s 2022 stolen base champion. After a cold August (.222), Berti has heated up in September (.343).

“We're just trying to have fun with it,” said Berti, who has played in a career-high 127 games in 2023. “This is what you want, so there's no need to put pressure on it. This is where you want to be. This is fun baseball, playing in front of great crowds and great atmospheres, [it] gives you that extra juice. It's a lot of fun.”

A day after ace Sandy Alcantara and Eury Pérez were announced done for the season, right-hander Edward Cabrera stepped up.

Cabrera, who was demoted to Triple-A Jacksonville on Aug. 1 due to command issues, returned to the Majors on Sept. 6 out of the bullpen -- something he hadn’t done since Single-A in 2017. After two relief outings, Cabrera rejoined the rotation and has given up two runs with three walks and nine strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings spanning two starts. 

“Obviously it's not easy losing two pitchers of that caliber -- like Sandy and Pérez -- but they're here,” Cabrera said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. “They're going to be helping us in some way. They're going to support us in the dugout, give us that strength as well. But we all have to continue. The show must go on. We've got to continue battling and try to get to that objective that we all know that we want.”

After dropping three of four in Milwaukee last week, and then a lopsided 16-1 result in Friday’s opener, Miami bounced back to take the series in games started by Brandon Woodruff and Peralta. Should the Marlins capture the third NL Wild Card spot, they would face the Brewers for the third time in four weeks.

“We've talked about [the] next man up for the majority of the year,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “We've had a lot of injuries. Every team has a lot of injuries. It tests your depth, and it tests our staff's belief in guys, and just letting them know that we believe in them. I think there's leadership in that clubhouse that helps that a lot, and we don't get to where we get to without that part of our clubhouse.”