Sierra's grab, Duvall's HR lead to sweep

May 7th, 2021

MIAMI -- When Asdrúbal Cabrera sent a deep drive to right-center field with two outs in the seventh, he pimped it thinking the ball was gone. Both Marlins manager Don Mattingly and reliever Dylan Floro, whose 87 mph changeup traveled a projected 392 feet, thought the same. 

Instead, backup outfielder Magneuris Sierra came down with what he called the best catch of his big league career to keep the score even in the seventh. Moments later, Adam Duvall knocked the go-ahead solo homer in the bottom half of the frame in a 3-1 victory over the D-backs on Thursday night at loanDepot park.

According to Statcast, Sierra covered 108 feet in six seconds, with a sprint speed of 28.1 ft/sec (27 ft/sec is league average). Though the play had a catch probability of 50 percent, Cabrera barreled the ball with an exit velocity of 101.1 mph. It would've been a home run in 14 ballparks.

The key was Sierra timing his jump perfectly to rob Cabrera of extra bases before making contact with the wall.

All Cabrera could do was stare in disbelief as Sierra held up his arm to show the ball on the palm of his glove. Floro pointed to Sierra. Shortstop Miguel Rojas, who opened the game with a leadoff homer against Madison Bumgarner, waited for his teammate to reach the infield to give him a hug.

"I always go out there to fight and compete, to be honest," Sierra said via an interpreter. "I was waiting for a ball. I'm always waiting for a fly ball so I can make a catch or help out the team."

Had it not been for some strategy from Mattingly, Sierra might not have even been on the field to make the play. Sierra had flied out to left field as a pinch-hitter in the sixth, then remained in the game to man center field as part of a double switch.

Mattingly said the decision to go with Sierra at that point was two-fold: There was nobody on and one out in the sixth, so he elected to save left-handed-hitting Corey Dickerson for later in the game. Mattingly turned to him when Lewis Brinson's spot in the order was due up and righty J.B. Bukauskas was on the mound. Brinson, who had been experiencing tenderness on swings and misses since the last homestand, aggravated his finger in his previous at-bat.

Sierra only has one start this season, with his usage coming as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. Though he went hitless in two at-bats on Thursday (3-for-23 in 2021), he impacted the game with his defense.

“I never put my head down,” Sierra said. “I'm always working on my game plan, and even though I’m not playing every day, I keep myself focused on my preparation."

Added Mattingly: "I think any time you can get more guys involved -- obviously with our combination of guys we haven't seen Mags as much as probably he would like -- but there will be days, there's going to be games for him for sure. When you're able to contribute, you feel more a part of it. I think him being able to make a play, get a hit last night and end up scoring a run, things like that, he knows he's getting an at-bat a day. But it's nice to get a little bit more of that and be part of something."

After dropping seven of 10 on their road trip, the Marlins returned home and secured their first series sweep of the season. In Tuesday’s opener, reliever Richard Bleier escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam to keep the score tied that swung momentum in Miami's favor. Following that sequence, Miami outscored Arizona 17-1.

"We've always had this confidence, and being able to sweep the series just fuels up that confidence," said right-hander Pablo López, who lowered his ERA to 2.04. "We've been doing things the right way even in our preparation, the way we go about our business once we get in between the lines. We've been doing things the right way with a good mindset, good confidence, trusting each other and holding each other accountable. So it's a great feeling seeing the results, being able to sweep the series with these three games at home in a row. Just a great feeling, showing us that as we keep doing things the right way, the results are going to show, and it's just going to keep building up the confidence."