MIAMI -- A glance at their 57-105 record would lead one to believe there wasn’t much for the Marlins to cheer about in 2019. That wasn’t necessarily the case.
Along the way in a disappointing overall season were standout individual and team performances -- and flashes of why the organization is optimistic about where its building process is headed.
Here’s a look at Miami’s five best wins in 2019 and what each could mean heading into 2020:
1. Marlins flip the script against division champs
Aug. 10 vs. Braves
After rallying to tie it with four runs in the ninth inning, the Marlins walked off against the Braves on Martín Prado’s 10th-inning sacrifice fly off Sean Newcomb, which scored Harold Ramirez with the winning run. The Marlins’ 7-6 victory came in front of the largest crowd of the season at Marlins Park, 29,720. Starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara gave up three runs in 7 2/3 innings, and Miami overcame deficits of 3-0 and 6-2.
What it tells us about 2020: For one night at least, it was a measure of revenge for the Marlins against the Braves. On June 9 at Miami, Atlanta rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to force extra innings, then won it, 7-6, in 12 innings. By flipping the script on the Braves, the Marlins got a taste of a comeback win over the National League East champions. It may have been just one game, but it came in August, against a team playing for something.
2. Cooper slams for sweep
May 23 vs. Tigers
With two outs in the ninth inning, Garrett Cooper capped a five-run rally, hitting a dramatic grand slam off Shane Greene for a 5-2 victory. The drive to left field stayed just fair, and Miami completed a three-game sweep at Detroit. Trevor Richards had a bend-but-don’t-break start, giving up one run on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, and in the eighth inning, the Tigers made it 2-0 by scoring off Tyler Kinley. But in the ninth, the Marlins put up five. The Tigers intentionally walked Curtis Granderson, a popular former Tigers standout, in perhaps his final plate appearance at Detroit, to get to Cooper. Sergio Romo closed it out in the ninth.
What it tells us about 2020: The win extended the Marlins’ winning streak to six, a season high, and Cooper established himself in that series as a power-hitting threat. Entering 2020, the first baseman/corner outfielder will have a shot at being an everyday player. The comeback also showed the fight the players had for manager Don Mattingly and his staff.
3. Alcantara dazzles in shutout
May 19 vs. Mets
Matched against hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard, the Marlins needed a stellar performance from Alcantara. He delivered. The right-hander made quick work of the Mets, posting a shutout in a 3-0 game that lasted a mere one hour, 59 minutes. Neither team scored until Granderson bounced into a double play in the sixth inning that brought home the first Miami run. It was the only run Alcantara needed on a day he threw 89 pitches.
What it tells us about 2020: The first of the two shutouts by Alcantara this season showed why the Marlins believe he is a true top-of-the-rotation candidate and is considered the front-runner to be the Opening Day starter in 2020. Alcantara was Miami’s lone All-Star, and when he is at his best, he is capable of shutting down any lineup and beating one of the top right-handed starters in the National League.
4. Record-setting rout
June 4 vs. Brewers
Backed by a franchise-record 11 runs in an inning (the fifth), the Marlins steamrolled the Brewers, 16-0, at Miller Park. Cooper had four hits, including a home run. Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson also went deep. With more than ample run support, Pablo López shut down the Brewers, striking out seven in six innings. He entered the game having received just 2.97 runs of support during his appearances, which at the time was the fourth-lowest among NL starters. The Marlins sent 15 to the plate in the fifth inning, and the 11 runs are one higher than the previous record -- 10, which has been done twice.
What it tells us about 2020: Even though the Marlins finished second-to-last in the Majors in runs, the big inning was a reminder of what the offense is capable of, when batters focus on moving the line. Players such as Cooper and Anderson are considered parts of the young core, as is López. According to Elias, the Marlins were the first team to have all nine batters record an RBI in a frame since the Giants on Aug. 12, 2015, against the Red Sox.
5. Outpacing LA without a homer
Aug. 15 vs. Dodgers
No one saw this coming. With Walker Buehler on the mound for the Dodgers and Caleb Smith throwing for the Marlins, a pitchers’ duel was expected. It was far from it, with the Marlins punching their way to a 13-7 victory that featured a six-run fifth inning and a five-run sixth. The Dodgers had four homers, and the Marlins none. But Anderson, Castro, Jorge Alfaro and Lewis Brinson each drove in three runs. Smith, meanwhile, gave up one run in five innings, but with his pitch count at 106, he was replaced. Buehler was lifted after allowing five runs in four-plus innings.
What it tells us about 2020: The Dodgers had pounded the Marlins 15-1 and 9-1 in the first two games of the series and were looking for the sweep. The Marlins showed resiliency by fighting back and putting up 13 runs against a strong Los Angeles staff. In many games, the Marlins may have been outmanned, but this game was a reminder that they stuck together for Mattingly and the staff and never stopped playing hard.