Lewis Brinson took his time.
With the bases loaded an no outs in the seventh inning of a tied ballgame against the Washington Nationals, he carefully took five sinkers from Koda Glover — three outside the zone, two called for strikes — to work a full-count.
Brinson struck on the sixth pitch, roping the 95 mph pitch to shallow left field to score Brian Anderson and give the Marlins the go-ahead run in their 8-5 win Monday to open their final homestand of the 2018 season.
“I’m just trying to see the ball as long as I can,” Brinson said of his approach on the game-winning at-bat. “If that means driving it over the first baseman’s head, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Just trying to see it as long as I can. Not trying to jump on the ball.”
It was the third consecutive productive inning for the Marlins offense after being shut out through four frames and falling behind 4-0. Miami (59-91) struck for two in the third on a Starlin Castro double that drove home Austin Dean and Magneuris Sierra, both of whom walked to open the frame, to cut the Marlins’ deficit in half.
Then, Miami took its lead with a sixth-inning hit barrage. Four consecutive Marlins hits — singles from Brinson, Miguel Rojas, Dean and Sierra — and a balk drove in three runs and handed the Marlins their first lead of the game.
After the Nationals (76-75) tied the game in the seventh on an RBI fielder’s choice, the Marlins went to work once again, loading the bases on a Brian Anderson single and walks to J.T. Realmuto and Peter O’Brien before Brinson came up with the clutch single. Rojas tacked on an insurance run on a sacrifice fly on the next plate appearance. Castro closed scoring in the eighth with his 12th home run of the season.
“A lot of good things today,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Starlin hits that big double [in the fifth], really gets us back in the game. ... And then we kind of strung some at-bats together. Brinson got a big hit. Austin Dean swung the bat, got a big hit there. Magneuris, it was nice to see those guys be able to contribute.”
The late offense salvaged a solid performance by Marlins pitcher Trevor Richards, who rebounded nicely following an almost disastrous fourth inning.
The rookie gave up a pair of home runs in the third inning — a solo shot to left-center by Victor Robles and a two-run homer to left by Anthony Rendon — to give the Nationals the early 4-0 lead. Richards responded by retiring the final eight batters he faced, striking out four in the process. Washington opened scoring in the second when a routine grounder to third base with the bases loaded popped off Anderson’s left wrist, allowing Rendon to score from third.
“It was one of those games,” Richards said. “I thought I threw the ball well. Fastball command was there. Honestly made two mistakes and they ended up over the wall. It’s just something to build on.”
In total, Richards struck out six while giving up five hits and one intentional walk over five innings. He struck out Bryce Harper three times, twice with a changeup and once with a splitter.
The bullpen — with efforts from Elieser Hernandez, Drew Rucinski, Jarlin Garcia, Nick Wittgren and Adam Conley — held the Nationals to one run and two hits with four strikeouts over the final four innings. Garcia earned the win, improving to 3-2 on the season. Conley earned his third save.