The Miami Marlins struggled to find much in the way of offense well into the first three contests of their four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After a late uprising, the Marlins look to salvage a split of the series when the teams reconvene on Thursday afternoon in Miami.
The Marlins mustered just three hits through seven innings on Wednesday before Avisail Garcia’s two-run single gave them a 2-1 lead with two outs in the eighth.
Pittsburgh rallied to tie the game in the ninth and claimed a 4-2 advantage in the 10th before Miami erupted for three runs in the bottom of the inning, capped by Jesus Aguilar scoring on a wild pitch for a 5-4 victory.
“I heard a couple of voices saying, ‘Go, go,’ so I took off,” Aguilar said.
While Don Mattingly was glad he did, the Marlins manager wasn’t particularly pleased with the aesthetics of the victory — only the end result.
“At the end of the day, (it’s) a win. Something we need, so let’s go get one (Thursday) and move on,” Mattingly said.
Garcia finished with two hits on Wednesday to improve to 6-for-17 (.353) in his past five games.
“That’s kind of the Avi that we know,” Mattingly said of Garcia’s hits on Wednesday. “What he’s capable of, backing up the ball, using that side of the field and more low line-drive gap stuff is when he’s at his best.”
It’s not known if Miami will have newly appointed All-Star Garrett Cooper back in the lineup on Thursday. He sat out the game on Wednesday, one day after he fouled a pitch off his left knee.
The Marlins will square off against a familiar face in Pittsburgh’s Zach Thompson (3-6, 4.38 ERA), who will take the mound to battle his former team for the first time.
Thompson was acquired by Pittsburgh in the deal that sent Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings to Miami in November.
The 28-year-old right-hander has an 0-2 record over his past four starts despite surrendering just two runs in each turn. He has struggled with the long ball, yielding six homers in that stretch, including one in a no-decision against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz has scored five times in his past seven games and has reached base safely in six of those contests.
Former Marlin Jake Marisnick is 5-for-10 with three extra-base hits (one double, two homers), three RBIs and three runs in the series.
While those contributions have been well received, the Pirates’ inability to hold the lead led to their season-high, four-game winning streak coming to an end.
“We had a chance to win,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We had the lead twice and ended up giving it back. We didn’t execute pitches at the end of the game.”
The Pirates will look to take out their frustrations on Miami left-hander Braxton Garrett (1-3, 4.33 ERA) on Thursday afternoon.
Garrett, 24, allowed two homers and three runs overall in 5 2/3 innings during a no-decision against the New York Mets on Saturday.
He has yet to face the Pirates in his young career.
–Field Level Media