Sunday, September 24, 2023

Sunday’s At The Ballpark

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

It’s hard to believe that in my 40 years of covering MLB that I’ve only covered two opening day games. One was the last game ever when the Detroit Tigers closed down their iconic stadium and the other occurred when they faced the Marlins at LoanDepot Park.

Meanwhile, I’ve covered my fair share of home finales.

The most memorable one was on Sunday, September 29, 2013. Henderson Alvarez threw the 282nd no-hitter in MLB History, in a game against the Detroit Tigers in a 1-0 win. He became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter on the final game of the regular season since Mike Witt in 1984, when he did it for the California Angels.

This was the first and only no-hitter that I’ve ever seen in person.

These days, I spend a lot of time doing shows, therefore, the only times I can get to the ballpark is mainly on weekends. Every now and then, if it’s an afternoon game during the week, I’ll come to the ballpark.

I’ve seen a lot of interesting games, and performances on Sundays. 

There are too many to mention at the moment. But every now and then, there is a game worth mentioning.

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On Sunday, August 13, 2023, the Marlins had a day they’ll never forget versus the New York Yankees. 

Yankees starter Gerrit Cole pitched six strong innings, yielded two runs and struck out six.

What happened in the ninth inning was extremely climactic as the Yankees bullpen imploded and give up five runs enabling Miami to come a way with an incredible 8-7 victory in front of a record crowd of 35,043 fans. Jake Burger’s game-ending single capped the incredible epic ending. Burger had three hits in the contest.

Yankees reliever Clay Holmes gave up the five runs and in 0.1 innings and saw his record drop to 4-3.

Marlins rookie starter Eury Perez gave up four runs in four innings, but managed to escape with a no-decision.

Jorge Lopez pitched a scoreless ninth inning to improve his record to 6-2. Since this game, the Marlins released Lopez and he’s a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

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On September 17, 2023, the Miami Marlins were looking to sweep their NL East Division nemesis, Atlanta Braves. The Marlins needed these games in order to stay in the NL Wild-Card Hunt.

In nine of their last 10 games versus the Braves, Atlanta outscored Miami 83-29. Would there be more of the same during the weekend series which occurred from September 15-17?

No. 

The Marlins swept this series and out scored Atlanta 36-11. It was a much needed sweep for the Marlins.

But the game that had the most fireworks occurred on Sunday, September 17th, the one that I attended. 

The Marlins slammed the Braves 16-2 and amassed 17 hits and left 10 men on base. 

The offensive barrage came from a lot of different sources, but the big blast of the day was from center-fielder Jazz Chisholm. He hit a grand slam home run and hit one the day before in Miami’s 11-5 win over the Braves, thus becoming the first player in club history to hit one in consecutive days. This led to a five-run fourth inning. Chisholm also had three walks.

In the Saturday game, he also stole three bases to go along with the grand slam, and as a result, was the second player in MLB History to do that.

What else would we see during the 16-2 rout?

The Marlins chased Braves starter Charlie Morton with six runs and six hits in 4.2 innings as he dropped to 14-12.

Miami’s power surge included home runs by Jorge Solar, Jake Burger and Nick Fortes. Luis Arraez also added three hits.

This run support was all Jesus Luzardo needed to improve his record to 10-9 as he struck out eight in six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and walking two. Catcher Jacob Stallings pitched the final inning and didn’t allow a run.

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On Sunday, September 24, the ducks lined up for a memorable afternoon as Miami hosted the Milwaukee Brewers. To this point, the teams split the first two games. 

The Brewers crushed the Marlins 16-1 on Friday Night and clinched a playoff berth. On Saturday, the Marlins stayed in wild-card hunt and prevented the Brewers from clinching the NL Central by taking a 5-4  decision. Miami improved its record to 80-75. 

While Milwaukee didn’t get the win, Carlos Santana hit the 300th homer of his career and former Marlin Christian Yellich had career hit 1,500 for Milwaukee.

This has set the stage for another interesting Sunday memory.

If the Marlins win this contest, they would be assured of not having a losing season under first year manager Skip Schumaker. Meanwhile, a win for the Brewers would enable them to clinch the NL Central Division.

In a game that took 2:46 minutes, the Marlins reached the 81 win mark by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers and won the series 2-1. A crowd of 17,538 were on hand for Fan Appreciation Day.

The Marlins roughed up Brewers starter and loser Freddy Peralta for four runs and nine hits in three innings. Reliever Julio Teheran gave up a pair of runs in three innings. The Marlins amassed 17 hits during the afternoon.

Luis Arraez took the day off but the Marlins didn’t miss a beat at second base as rookie Xavier Edwards amassed three hits and stole two bases. It was the first three hit career game in his career. 

The Marlins had three home runs in the contest as Josh Bell had one while Jon Berti had two. It was Berti’s second career multi-home run game of his career with the first one occurring on May 4, 2022 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Left-handed pitcher Tanner Scott struck out the side in the 9th inning becoming the second reliever in Marlins history to reach 100 strikeouts in a single season. He is the first left-handed pitcher reach that feat. He joined Kyle Barraclough, (113, 2016) as the only two relievers in Marlins history to have 100 strikeouts in a season.

The Marlins have had their fair share of pitching problems this season.

Cy Young Award Winner Sandy Alcantara is done for 2023. Eury Perez is on the 15 Day IL, Jesus Luzardo has pitched in a career high 171.1 innings as has Braxton Garrett with 155.2. Going into this game, Marlins relievers tossed 98.1 innings in September which is second most in MLB.

On this final Sunday of the regular season, Edward Cabrera pitched five solid innings yielding just one run and five hits, had two walks and five strikeouts as he improved his record to 7-7.

The Marlins finished their 2023 regular season home schedule going 46-35, becoming the 6th team in franchise history to win at least 46 games at home.

The last time the Marlins won more games at home in a regular season was in 2003, when they went 53-28.

As the Brewers division title waits for at least another day, it won’t happen on this Fall Sunday afternoon in South Florida. The Marlins will conclude their regular season with successive road trips at the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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The only disadvantage of covering the Sunday games is because of the early contests, there are no Media Availability with the Manager prior to the game. But as I list game coverage on the game application, there has been no shortage of quality storylines between the lines.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com and you can watch his broadcasts by subscribing to the South Florida Tribune You Tube Channel at no cost. There are a lot of broadcasts to suit a variety of interests.


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