Arraez gets 200th hit, but Marlins fall from Wild Card spot

September 19th, 2023

MIAMI -- Riding the high of sweeping MLB’s top team in the Braves, the Marlins watched right-hander pitch into the sixth inning in his return to the rotation and collect his 200th hit.

But Miami mustered just five hits against rookie righty José Butto and three Mets relievers, while lefty Tanner Scott surrendered the go-ahead homer to Jeff McNeil in the ninth inning of a 2-1 loss on Monday night at loanDepot park.

With 11 games remaining, the Marlins must quickly flush the result and move on to continue their postseason pursuit.

  • Games remaining: vs. NYM (2), vs. MIL (3), at NYM (3), at PIT (3)
  • Standings update: The Marlins (78-73) fell a half-game behind the Cubs (78-72) and the Reds (79-73) for the third NL Wild Card spot. Miami holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Chicago, having taken four of six in the season series. Miami (24-23 against the NL East) holds the second tiebreaker -- intradivisional record -- over Cincinnati (19-27 against the NL Central) since those teams split their six games this season.

“It's already gone,” said Scott, who hadn’t allowed an earned run since July 31. “It happened. Tip your cap to him. I threw a mistake pitch, and he hit it. Just got to live with it, and tomorrow's a new day and we play them again.”

While Scott and most of the lineup hope to turn the page, Arraez and Cabrera would like to keep trending in the direction they’re headed.

Arraez became the fourth Marlin to reach the 200-hit milestone, joining Juan Pierre (2003-04), Hanley Ramirez ('07) and Dee Strange-Gordon (2015, '17). He is the second Major Leaguer to do so this season, along with the Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr., but in 33 fewer at-bats.

In Arraez’s first season with the Marlins, he got to 200 hits in 145 games, the fewest needed to achieve the feat since Strange-Gordon (143 games) in 2015. Arraez also is the quickest instance of any MLB player to reach 200 since the Marlins’ All-Star second baseman.

“It's a lot,” said Arraez, who is batting .394 in September. “Two hundred is a lot for everybody. It's hard to hit in the big leagues, but I did it. I worked hard for that. When I hit it to center field, I said, ‘Thanks God for everything.’”

Arraez might be having a career year, but it has been a challenging one for Cabrera. It all began when he faced the Mets in his first two starts of the season, walking 13 batters in 6 2/3 frames, a sign of things to come in 2023. It didn’t get better with an injured-list stint, then more control issues, so the Marlins demoted him to Triple-A Jacksonville on Aug. 1.

Miami recalled Cabrera on Sept. 6 to pitch out of the bullpen for the first time in his career, and he showed some progress. Cabrera permitted just two runs over 8 2/3 innings (2.08 ERA), but he walked eight and struck out 13. The Marlins decided to reinsert Cabrera back into the rotation on Monday in large part because of the bullpen's recent usage, especially opener JT Chargois. The series opener marked their 14th straight day with a game.

Cabrera was on the attack from the get-go, needing just three pitches to strike out Brandon Nimmo to open a 13-pitch perfect first. He would go on to strike out four and walk just one over 5 2/3 innings. The Mets’ lone run off him came in the fifth, when Ronny Mauricio singled with one out and stole second. Omar Narváez walked before Mark Vientos' RBI single.

Not only was Cabrera’s command there, but so was his velocity, which was up on all five of his pitches.

“It feels great coming out as a starter,” Cabrera said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. “I felt like I was Cabrera again.”

If this version of Cabrera is here to stay, it would be a relief to Miami. Though ace Sandy Alcantara is hopeful he will return before the season ends, the Marlins continue to roll with a six-man rotation because Jesús Luzardo, Braxton Garrett and Eury Pérez are well beyond their career high for innings.

“There's some starters down, so we need him to be good,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “We have had faith in him, especially coming out of Spring Training, of what kind of pitcher he could be and is going to be. He had a little hiccup in the middle of the year where we wanted him to go down and work on throwing strikes. He did. Some up-and-down games down there, but since he's been back, maybe a couple bad innings. But overall, he's been really good since he's been back.”