'We came to play'; Marlins split with SD

Bats erupt with young stars, unexpected contributors stinging Padres

July 25th, 2021

MIAMI -- With the Big 3 in their rotation unavailable over the weekend, the Marlins still earned a four-game series split with the Padres with a 9-3 win on Sunday afternoon at loanDepot park. Deven Marrero, Brian Anderson and Lewis Brinson went deep, while seven relievers perfectly executed a bullpen game.

“Not to lay down,” Brinson said of what the ballclub showed. “Obviously that's a good team, everybody knows it, one of the best teams in the league. And we came to play. They got the first two, but we snatched the last two, tied the series. We play these guys again [Aug. 9-11], so hopefully we can come with that same energy when we go out to San Diego.”

Though Sandy Alcantara returned from the bereavement list on Sunday (he will start on Tuesday in Baltimore), Pablo López and Trevor Rogers are sidelined with injuries. The series finale was supposed to be Rogers' turn, but the All-Star rookie is dealing with a lower back muscle spasm.

So the Marlins (43-57) used openers twice and sent rookies Zach Thompson and Braxton Garrett to the mound for the other two matchups with the Padres (58-44). Miami held a San Diego roster with All-Stars Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth to 13 runs across 36 innings.

"The runs this series have been really, really hard to come by,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “I think a couple of things. This ballpark, the way they play defense, I'll say this: I think you’ve got to tip your cap a little bit to their pitchers. They ran a bullpen day today, and they didn't really have one guy not have it today. So they matched up, and they threw the ball extremely well.”

On the offensive side, the Marlins received contributions from unlikely sources. South Florida native Marrero held down shortstop in place of Miguel Rojas, who had started 21 straight games, and finished 3-for-4 with a solo homer to right off All-Star Yu Darvish in the third. It marked his first long ball since Sept. 20, 2017. He also picked up his first stolen base since May 5, 2018, and singled during the two-run fifth and again in the five-run sixth.

The 30-year-old Marrero had his contract selected by the Marlins for the second time this season on Friday, and it came at the perfect time. He shared the field with Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, whom he called his “big brother.” Best friends since they were 9 years old, they both attended American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla.

“It was fun,” said Marrero, who appeared in his 165th MLB game since 2015. “It was just good to get in the game today and just go play and have fun and go with this great group of guys we have in here.”

Brinson, another local product, sent a towering three-run homer to left-center in the sixth. He had entered the game to pinch-hit in the middle of a fifth-inning at-bat for pinch-hitting pitcher Thompson. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Brinson hit a fly ball to left for an out.

But Magneuris Sierra, starting in left field for the fourth time since prospect Jesús Sánchez landed on the IL with an undisclosed injury on July 16, bailed Brinson out with a two-out double for his first RBI of the season. It took his 140th plate appearance of 2021 to do so.

Then there’s Anderson, a possible cornerstone of the organization. Reinstated from the 60-day injured list on Saturday, he sent a Darvish cutter over the right-field wall in the fourth. The Marlins improved to 20-17 when Anderson appears in a game in 2021. Unfortunately, he has had two IL stints this season.

Injuries have been an issue for the Marlins -- like the rest of the National League East. Every regular except Jesús Aguilar and Adam Duvall has spent time on the IL. That pair ranks first and second, respectively, in RBIs in the NL. Both are in the middle of trade rumors. It’s easy to wonder what might’ve been with the Deadline five days away and the club seen as sellers being 11 games back in the division.

“I look at it like another everyday guy,” manager Don Mattingly said of Anderson’s return. “You've got pieces on your club that some of them are everyday guys, some are playing part time. When you have Andy, it's just another everyday regular in your lineup that's kind of a staple. I think that just adds to our club and makes us better on the bench. We could do some things differently. It's just another everyday guy that you feel like is kind of solid day in and day out.”