All in all, a good weekend for Marlins

June 21st, 2021

CHICAGO -- It was truly a tale of two cities.

After getting swept in St. Louis, the Marlins went to Chicago and reversed course, taking two of three from the National League Central-leading Cubs, though they did drop Sunday’s finale, 2-0, at Wrigley Field. This weekend marked Miami’s return to the scene of last fall’s National League Wild Card Series victory.

• Box score

struck out a career-high seven batters across four no-hit innings in his third start, but Miami was shut out for the eighth time this season -- and second of the trip (both in the series finale).

The club heads back to South Florida for a six-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Nationals.

"I think we got going, so that was a pretty good feeling," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously today's not the way we wanted to end it, but I think we did get back on track as far as being able to swing the bats, solidifying our defense, lineup kind of gets solidified a little bit. Hopefully keep moving from here."

1. What type of production?
It’s no secret Miami’s lineup has been inconsistent, with 38 of 71 games scoring three runs or fewer. The Marlins (31-40) and Cubs (40-32) entered Sunday with the same run differential (+20) in 2021, but with vastly different records and places in the standings.

Look no further than this six-game trip.

Three games in St. Louis:
.188 average with RISP
1 extra-base hit
3 runs
10 walks
19 left on base
25 strikeouts

Three games in Chicago:
.286 with RISP
10 extra-base hits
21 runs
11 walks
16 left on base
25 strikeouts

“Just get back on the horse,” Mattingly said. “Hopefully we're swinging the bats and putting some runs up for the most part. We'll have Sandy [Alcantara] and Trevor [Rogers] in that first series at home. Feel like those guys are in general going to be pretty good. Toronto can swing the bats. So hopefully, those guys are good, because it keeps us in the game, and our offense can put some runs on the board. The takeaway really is hopefully this is the start of us being consistent, put runs on the board consistently.”

2. The return of Rojas
Though , a 2020 NL Gold Glove Award finalist, committed a rare fielding error that led to an unearned run in the third inning on Sunday, Miami’s unofficial captain stabilizes the middle infield. He finished 1-for-14 over the weekend after just eight at-bats on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Jacksonville. Sidelined since May 28 with a dislocated left index finger, Rojas made it his mission to get back as soon as possible. In his absence, the Marlins went 5-13 and fell into last place in the NL East.

Earlier in the weekend, Mattingly said that Rojas’ injury hurt as much as any of the others, including the left rib fracture that kept Starling Marte out for more than a month.

“That's the biggest thing that I can be: Be supportive of the guys, be there for them if they need to talk or anything like that,” Rojas said Friday. “And at the end of the day, my biggest message is being here today, three weeks after this happened, playing a game with them again. It doesn't matter how we go from here now, we’ve just got to forget about what happened in the past and just move forward and continue to grind and try to win games.”

3. Winning without the top arms
Neither Alcantara nor Rogers pitched in the weekend series, and the Marlins still managed to capture it. Cody Poteet returned from the injured list before Friday's 10-2 win, and Thompson kept his club in Sunday’s game despite seven days between outings.

A season-long theme has been Miami’s inability to round out the rotation behind Alcantara, Pablo López and Rogers. With the way Poteet and Thompson looked, Mattingly can put more trust into handing them the ball again. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Thompson became the fourth player in baseball history to make his first two career road starts at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. He is the only one do so in the same season and for the same team.

“It's Cloud 9 to be here,” said Thompson, who recorded four of his seven K’s on the cutter. “I've just been living on this high ever since I've been up here, pitching at Fenway, now pitching at Wrigley. You've got however many people here today, [37,158] people. Just knowing that I can compete with these guys obviously just gives me a tremendous amount of confidence to keep going and keep getting outs and keep putting my team in the best possible situation that I can.”