The fish are currently on a long road trip that begins West and ends East. Edgar Renteria, Livan Hernandez and Charles Johnson from the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins threw out the first pitches at the Miami Marlins 2017 home opener versus the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins sure know how to get a fast pitch to their 25th baseball season specifically opening their baseball home schedule in a wild way. Literally.
The Braves were the first team to travel to Downtown Miami. The Marlins split the opening series with the Braves with Miami winning the first game 8-4 and taking the L in the second game 5-4. In the home opener, the fish added a cat to the rotation. A gray cat went scrambling for cover in the Marlins Park outfield midway through the game. It ran along the outfield warning track, ran away from right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, crawled up the centerfield wall and then appeared to get stuck in the animatronic home run “thingy ma gig” off centerfield. Marcel Ozuna, who hit 23 home runs last season, hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning, a three-run homer in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth. “I detest cats,” he said in his Spanish accent. Later called the rally cat, the cat added no curse.
The family of the late pitcher Jose Fernandez decided not to attend the Marlins’ home opener because it would have been too emotional, according to Marlins president David Samson. A tribute will be held later for the pitcher who died in a boat crash in September. His clubhouse locker has become a shrine, its contents remain the same behind protective Plexiglass. The Marlins will wear a patch with the number 16 on their jerseys this season to honor Fernandez.
In the 5-4 loss against the Braves, there was a power outage at Marlins Park. A collection of lights went out in the fourth inning interrupting the game for nearly 30 minutes. Braves centerfielder Ender Inciarte matched Giancarlo Stanton homer for homer until Tyler Flowers broke the tie, and the Braves broke their five-game losing streak. Inciarte hit two home runs and Flowers had a go-ahead single in the ninth inning.
After the Braves series, the Marlins hosted another division foe, the New York Mets. Why not play extra innings for the home crowd, and that is what happened. Travis d’Arnaud led off the 16th inning with a home run, giving him a career-high four hits, and the Mets beat the Marlins 9-8 for their fifth consecutive victory. Mets starter Robert Gsellman allowed a career-high eight runs in 4 2/3 innings, but seven relievers combined to throw 10 1/3 scoreless innings. Only thing better than the 16 innings were signs stating, “Let’s go Mets, squish the fish” with mascot Mr. Met illustrated on it.
In the second game, J.T. Realmuto hit a game-ending RBI double with two outs in the ninth inning, and Miami snapped New York’s five-game win streak with a 3-2 victory. The Marlins avoided extra innings after a 16-inning loss to the Mets the game before.
Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs, one earned, in six innings before he departed after throwing 87 pitches. The right-hander said the nail split on his forefinger around the third inning, and on his middle finger in the sixth. It only got better the next game in the series for the fish.
Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton whacked back-to-back homers to cap a three-run eighth inning as the Marlins rallied past the Mets 5-4 in the third game of the series.
“It is a fun time to be playing for the fish,” Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon stated.
The Marlins ended the four-game series against the Mets with a treat for fish fans. Rookie JT Riddle connected on his first career home run in special fashion. The Marlins rookie bombed a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning Sunday and the Marlins beat the New York Mets 4-2. The drive cleared the wall in right-center field and led to a vigorous celebration at home plate.
“Every game was close in this series against the Mets,” Riddle stated. “It is fun to be here.”
The Marlins opened the season 4-2 at home and 7-5 overall.
“We have ups and down you just have to roll with it,” Marlins first baseman Justin Bour stated. “This is a team that is going to take a punch and we are going to give it right back. I am pretty happy with the way we are playing right now.”
The Marlins go on a long road trip from West to East. The frequent flyer miles begin in Seattle, San Diego, and end in Philadelphia. Justin Bour’s three-run home run to right field Sunday highlighted a six-run sixth inning and propelled the Marlins to a 7-3 win over the Padres — their second in a row. The Marlins now travel to Philadelphia to play the Phillies with a 10-8 record and two and a half games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals.
The Marlins don’t return home until Friday April 28th. The fish faithful will not get to see wild finishes until then when they begin a five-game homestand.
Speaking of wild…the name Don Cat-ting-ly (no relation to Marlins manager Don Mattingly) has been the name used for the gray feline who ran on the field during the Braves/Marlins game. The beat goes on.