Miami Marlins

Marlins offense comes up big against Max Scherzer to clinch series over the Nationals

Don Mattingly explains why the Marlins fired their hitting coach

The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.
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The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.

This is the offense the Miami Marlins have been looking for.

String together quality at-bats. Find pitches to hit early in the count. Scratch across a few runs. Be tough outs at the plate. Be aggressive on the basepaths.

It all came together on Saturday.

The Marlins put up runs early against Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer, responded each time the Nationals attempted to rallied and backed up Jose Urena’s second consecutive quality start with a 9-3 win at Marlins Park to clinch their first series of the season.

The Marlins (6-15) tagged Scherzer for seven runs (six earned) off 11 hits — five of which went for extra bases — and had consistent approaches at the plate all night. Brian Anderson, Curtis Granderson, Starlin Castro and Miguel Rojas each had multi-hit outings. Scherzer lasted just 5 1/3 innings.

“A lot of big hits in that game,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “... If you let [Scherzer] get on a roll, then you’re in trouble. Felt like we had action all night. We gave ourselves chances all night.”

The Marlins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first after Granderson led off with a single and came home on an Anderson double two batters later. Castro then drove home Anderson with a line-drive single to left.

The Nationals (9-10) attempted to rally, tying the game twice, but the Marlins immediately responded each time.

When the Nationals tied it 2-2 in the third, Castro ripped another RBI single to score Martin Prado in the bottom half of the inning. When they tied it 3-3 in the fifth, Granderson hit a home run to left to give the Marlins the lead for good.

The Marlins added three more runs in the sixth on two big plays. With Rojas on third and Isaac Galloway on second, pinch-hitter Rosell Herrera slapped a ground ball barely in front of home plate. Scherzer’s underhand throw home went behind catcher Yan Gomes as Rojas slid in safely. Galloway scored on the error, and Herrera reached second base. One batter later, Granderson then hit a deep fly ball to center field. Victor Robles crashed into the wall making the catch. Herrera scored from second base.

Anderson scored on a wild pitch in the seventh and Jon Berti — who the Marlins called up earlier in the day — scored on a Neil Walker RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth to close scoring.

Urena, meanwhile, pitched six solid innings to earn his first win of the season. He scattered eight hits while giving up three runs (two earned) and striking out four. He walked one batter and hit another.

Adam Conley, Tyler Kinley and Tayron Guerrero closed the game on the mound with three scoreless innings.

Anderson in the outfield

After opening the year playing exclusively at third base, Anderson started in right field on Saturday night for the first time this season.

Make no mistake about it, though: The Marlins’ long-term plan for Anderson to be their everyday third baseman.

But having Anderson split time between right field and third base allows for Martin Prado to get more playing time. The team has been cautious with Prado early after dealing with an assortment of injuries over the last two years. Anderson played 91 games in right field as a rookie last year.

“It makes us better, defensively, from the standpoint of a solid guy in right field on an everyday basis,” Mattingly said. “That’s one of the things when we talked with Andy, we wouldn’t have done this without him being willing.”

And Anderson is still producing at the plate. He hit a pair of doubles and drew a walk on Saturday and has now reached safely in nine consecutive games. In that span, Anderson is hitting .364 (12 for 33) with eight walks.

Roster moves

Prior to Saturday’s game, the Marlins optioned outfielder Austin Dean to Triple-A New Orleans and brought up infielder Jon Berti. In order to add Berti to the team’s 40-man roster, the Marlins moved right-handed pitcher Riley Ferrell (bicep tendinitis) to the 60-day Injured List.

Dean was on the major-league roster for six games. He made a splash offensively in his second game of the season, going 4 for 4 with 5 RBI in the Marlins’ 10-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 13. In the four games that followed, he went 1 for 16 with eight strikeouts and also had trouble defensively.

“It was as much as anything a defensive situation,” Mattingly said. “He gave us offense that [second] day. After that, it was all chase. ... I think the main thing was this outfield. We’ve got to be able to defend better with our pitching.”

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.
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