Saturday, May 7, 2022

An Unexpected Bullpen Day In Miami For Arizona Diamondbacks

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Before the Miami Marlins concluded their three-game series vs the Arizona Diamondbacks, I had the opportunity to spend time with my former colleague Jody Jackson, and talk about old times living in the Valley of the Sun, when I lived there from 1999-2002.

The former Hallandale, FL., native has been in Phoenix since 2000 and I’d see her at Diamondbacks games and other assignments in the area. 

Our paths crossed when the Arizona Cardinals faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa for Super Bowl 43. The Steelers did win this game.

But Jackson asked me before the game, who I was pulling for in this contest? 

I told her there was no way that I could lose because I have loyalties to both areas. 

Jackson was working for FOX Sports Net before the company changed hands to Ballys.

When I lived in Arizona, the Diamondbacks captured their lone World Series Championship with a team that featured pitchers Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Matt Williams, Craig Counsell and Luis Gonzalez in 2001.

It was neat living in that area which won its first major championship in any sport since it came up short a couple of times with the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

Two years after I left Arizona, the Marlins won the World Series for its second title in their history. Counsell was also on this team which also had future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, among others. 

My history with the Marlins goes far deeper than the MLB ties as I covered the franchise when it played in the Class A Florida State League.

This is my third season covering the Marlins and I make no bones about it that one of the best managers that I’ve ever worked with during My 42-year career is current Miami Skipper Don Mattingly. 

The Marlins current pilot has seen it all. 

He’s managed through a pandemic and led his team to a post-season in 2020, and there have been some notable front office changes. Former Yankees legend Derek Jeter is no longer the President and GM Kim Ng is calling the shots.

Every year, I always like to see these teams play once. Jackson didn’t make the trip last year because the team’s broadcasters didn’t travel.

Like the Marlins, Jackson has seen her team go through it’s ups and downs.

In 2021, the Diamondbacks went 52-110 and were fifth in the NL West. 

Things couldn’t have gone much worse for Manager Torey Luvullo but Arizona didn’t make a change.

Going into this series, Arizona led all-time 93-70 but in 2021, the Marlins won the season series 5-2.

Miami held the advantage at home 44-40 all-time.

Before Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners, Miami had won seven straight games.

Could the Marlins get back on track against their Sun Belt Rival during the week?

The answer is no as the Diamondbacks defeated Pablo Lopez (3-1) in the first contest Monday Night and Trevor Rogers (1-4) Tuesday Night, both by identical 5-4 scores.

Miami’s last chance at a win occurred on Wednesday afternoon as Elieser Hernandez (2-1) squared off against Madison Bumgarner (1-1).

When I looked at the Diamondbacks roster, I have to admit there were only three names that I recognized. 

Bumgarner, and pitchers Joe Mantiply and Ian Kennedy were the only players that I had heard of. 

Then again, when a team loses 110 games, you would expect them to have a high roster turnover and let some of the younger players in their system have a chance to gain experience in the big show.

What did I see on Wednesday? 

Bumgarner had a short stint on the mound as he was ejected after the first inning by veteran umpire Dan Bellino. 

The 32-year pitcher was thrown out at the end of the inning during a routine check of his hands for sticky substances. A fierce argument between the two ensued with Diamondbacks personnel needing to restrain Bumgarner. The situation escalated for several minutes before Bumgarner finally calmed down.

Bellino was disciplined for the incident while Bumgarner will not face further discipline. 

Bellino claimed Bumgarner was using profanity directed at him. Earlier in the inning, the veteran pitcher showed some frustration at a ball/strike call by home plate umpire Ryan Willis. That came minutes before the confrontation with Bellino.

By Friday, a rarity occurred and Bellino, who has been an MLB umpire for 15 years, did issue a public apology to Bumgarner.

As for the game itself, Hernandez gave up five runs but didn’t fare in the decision. Corbin Martin pitched four solid innings following Bumgarner in what would turn out to be an unexpected bullpen day for Arizona.

This contest was a first for me. 

The Diamondbacks entire lineup had left-handed hitters. There were four left-handed hitters along with five switch-hitters.

This contest was a see-saw battle. 

Miami took a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning and then the Diamondbacks put up a five spot to lead 5-3. The Snakes added another run in the sixth inning to lead 6-3. 

But in the seventh and eighth innings, Miami scored a pair in each frame to take 7-6 lead into the ninth inning.

Twenty-Six year-old Jupiter, Florida native Pavin Smith homered to right field off Anthony Bender (0-3) to send the 7,356 fans home as the Diamondbacks swept the Marlins with an 8-7 loss as Miami’s losing streak hit four games. 

The Diamondbacks record improved to 13-13 while the Marlins dropped to 12-12.

Jon Berti did his part for the Marlins offensively as he homered off of Bumgarner in the first inning and had his first two-home run game of his career. This was Bertie’s first career multi-home run game.

Jesus Aguilar hit a round-tripper and had three hits. Jazz Chisholm Jr. also had a pair of hits but that wasn’t enough to avert the sweep in a game that was overshadowed by the Bumgarner drama.

Arizona now leads the All-Time Series 96-70. 

After a four-game series that started in San Diego, the Marlins and Diamondback will see each other for a three-game series on Monday Night in Phoenix at Chase Field.

The Valley of the Sun hasn’t been kind to the Marlins as the Miami’s all-time record at Chase Field stands at 29-50.

If I were a betting man, the only thing that I’ll predict is if the Marlins see Bumgarner in this series, barring any early inning difficulties, the hurler should make it at least past one inning. 

The focus will be on the game and not the sideshow by the umpires that overshadowed Wednesday’s Game at LoanDepot Park. 

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter @TribuneSouth.

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