A year ago at this time, the Marlins’ front office was tasked with advancing the franchise’s building process. The club had come off a 105-loss season, and the directive from ownership was to add impactful players to upgrade an offense that ranked at or near the bottom in many significant statistical categories.
Dickerson belted the go-ahead three-run homer and Aguilar added a two-run shot in a five-run seventh inning that rallied the Marlins to a 5-1 win over the Cubs in Game 1 of their National League Wild Card Series at Wrigley Field.
“Corey was one of the guys that we went after,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He's always hit. He's always been a guy that seems to hit good pitching. It was good for him. His first postseason, and he hits a homer. He was excited, and then Agui is another guy that's hit. Good year a couple of years ago, struggled last year. We were hoping for the bounce back, and we got it. Both of those guys bring a ton to the club.”
The sixth-seeded Marlins are in position to close out the best-of-three series on Thursday, with rookie Sixto Sánchez scheduled to face Yu Darvish.
With one out in the seventh inning, Miguel Rojas and Chad Wallach hit back-to-back singles to bring up Dickerson, an eight-year veteran appearing in his first playoff game. He connected on Kyle Hendricks’ first-pitch four-seam fastball. According to Statcast, Dickerson’s drive to left-center projected at 384 feet, with an exit speed of 105.4 mph.
Until the seventh, Hendricks had been able to repeatedly frustrate the Marlins with runners in scoring position.
“He was tough,” Dickerson said. “He was hitting his spots. Very tough at-bats. He has been good for a long time. It was about getting a good pitch, and don't miss it. I think early on, I was thinking too much, trying to get the right pitch. It was about seeing it over the plate, get my timing right and letting it go. I got a good pitch to hit.”
“I was making good pitches, and I'd made good pitches to Dickerson all day long,” Hendricks said. “That wasn't a bad pitch -- he just jumped on it. He was sitting on it, and he didn't miss it. Put a really good swing on it. There's just nothing you can do there. It's unfortunate.”
Miami added two more runs, with Aguilar going to the opposite field on his homer off Jeremy Jeffress. Statcast tracked the homer at 366 feet, with an exit velocity of 97.7 mph.
“That inning was a great inning for us, especially with Corey's homer,” Aguilar said. “It was like, ‘We could do it.’ We just tried to do our job, and stay aggressive.”
The Marlins claimed Aguilar off waivers from the Rays last December, and the organization banked on the veteran performing like he did with the Brewers in 2018, when he was an All-Star and hit 35 homers with 108 RBIs. A year ago, he struggled, hitting .236 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs with the Brewers and Rays.
“This was the perfect team for me to gain my confidence,” Aguilar said. “I want to say thanks to the organization for believing in me. Last year wasn't a good year. This year was a different year, and we showed that.
“It was a rough year last year for me, but now we're here. I think we have the right pieces. We've got the right guys. Now let's see what happens.”