Brinson, Díaz energize Miami in Game 2 win

September 12th, 2020

After a few years of development, the Marlins may be starting to see more of a return from one of their most controversial trades in franchise history.

and on Friday night each came through with big RBI hits that helped pace the Marlins to a 5-3 victory over the Phillies and a seven-inning doubleheader split at Marlins Park. They lost Game 1, 11-0.

Brinson crushed a home run and Díaz delivered a key run-scoring single in the bounceback win.

“We're in a playoff race,” Brinson said. “I want to win the World Series. Whether it's 60 games or 162 games, I just look at it as, I want to win at all costs.”

The two, of course, were part of the well-publicized Christian Yelich trade to the Brewers prior to the 2018 season. Additionally, Monte Harrison, who was in the same deal, stole second in the sixth inning and scored an insurance run on Starling Marte’s RBI single.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears over the past couple of years,” Brinson said. “This offseason has been big for me, mentally and physically, being able to trust myself and know that I'm here for a reason. It's not a fluke that I'm here and living out my dream.”

Brinson and Díaz are each in their third seasons with the franchise, and both are looking to establish themselves as big league regulars. Yelich, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the faces of the sport, and he was the National League Most Valuable Player Award winner in 2018.

With the win, the Marlins (21-20) moved to within a half-game of the Phillies (22-20) for second place in the NL East.

Yimi García picked up the save, getting the nod because Brandon Kintzler has been dealing with a fingernail issue. Kintzler worked the sixth.

After a lackluster loss in Game 1, the Marlins fell behind by a run in the third.

Brinson woke the offense up with a home run off Heath Hembree in the bottom of the third, turning on a 95 mph fastball. Statcast projected the drive to left at 395 feet with an exit velocity of 100.6 mph.

“That was big,” Brinson said. “Tied the game up against a good lineup, obviously. Got momentum on our side a little bit. Obviously after that, we took off a little bit.”

Brinson did a nice piece of hitting on a pitch located in a zone in which he hasn’t had much success. On pitches up and in during his three seasons with the Marlins, Brinson entered the game with a .178 batting average, per Statcast.

Of his 16 MLB homers, Brinson has only homered twice on pitches in that area. His other blast was a grand slam off Julio Teheran, then with the Braves, on May 20, 2018.

“He's coming along,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We'll keep going with him. He's getting better. We'll mix and match him a lot of different ways.”

Prior to Friday, Brinson had been heating up, batting .321 with a .607 slugging percentage over his previous 12 games. He’s been mostly starting against left-handers, but he is getting more chances against righties.

“Against lefties, the at-bats were getting pretty good,” Mattingly said. “A lot of times, that leads to confidence. We're starting to see it against a righty.”

Díaz put the Marlins in front with an RBI single in a three-run fourth inning. Jorge Alfaro added a two-run single in the inning.

The start was Díaz’s first since he was reinstated and recalled from the alternate training site. In late July, the 24-year-old second baseman had elected not to play.

“It's a good feeling to come back into the clubhouse and see everyone, and see how focused everyone is,” Díaz said postgame on Fox Sports Florida. “It's exciting. I'm ready to go, and I'm happy to be back.”

Daniel Castano made the start, and he gave up one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings.

The Marlins have won two of the first three in their seven-game series with the Phillies. Mattingly noted that the club will need contributions up and down the lineup in order to help reach the playoffs.

Brinson and Díaz each did their part in Game 2.

“You always have your guys that you kind of count on to be the anchors of your club,” Mattingly said. “You see Jorge, the last few nights, he's out of the 9-hole. ... Gets a big hit last night, gets a big hit today. It comes from all over the place. Isan is back there towards the end of the lineup.”