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HIGHS and LOWS: Miami Marlins 2024 Opening Day

It took 12 innings and nearly the entire roster, but the Miami Marlins couldn't finish off the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day. LoanDepot Park was treated to an extra-inning affair ending 6-5, and though Miami lost, the stadium was buzzing throughout the ballgame. It was exciting, an absolute roller coaster as a spectator and a fan, and it showcased a young Marlins team already being challenged by their own decisions. Here are several key takeaways from the inaugural game:


Tim Anderson Scoring His First RBI: In the bottom of the 2nd, Tim Anderson got his first opportunity as a Marlin to make an impact, and he succeeded. He took an insider the opposite way, hugging the right field line and scoring Jake Burger.

It was an important first step for Timmy, and I look forward to more at-bats like these. He didn't register a hit for the rest of the game (1-5), so this being his only highlight is a little underwhelming. He has a long season ahead, and fans are looking for him to get back into his older, Silver Slugger winning, form.

Jesus Luzardo Continued His Dominance: The Ace was dealing in his first start. He went 5 innings, threw below 100 pitches, and struck out 8 hitters. The fastball and changeup were looking sharp again, and he shook off whatever rust or jitters he had considering it being his first Opening Day start.

He did, however, give up a 2-run homerun to Bryan Reynolds after Miami scored the first 2 runs of the game in the previous half-inning. It was a no-doubter and started the back-and-forth affair (though when he was pulled by Manager Skip Schumaker, the Marlins were up 5-2). Regardless of the no-decision, Jesus showed fans and the league he is a reliable pitcher with some nasty breaking balls.

The Josh Bell and Jake Burger Combo Is Still Producing Results: Last year's big name additions are continuing to be the backbone of this Marlin's offense. Josh Bell finished the day 2-3 with 1BB and 1R, while Jake Burger finished 3-4 with 3RBI's and 1R. They contributed to 4 of Miami's 5 runs and made key defensive plays in the game's more stressful moments. One play in particular was Josh Bell throwing out a runner at home in the 11th inning. The game was tied 5-5 with 1 out and a runner on 3rd. Bryan Reynolds hit a grounder to 1st, forcing Bell to backhand it and eagerly throw the runner out. The umpires reviewed the play considering Fortes being somewhat in the runner's path, but the ruling stayed as it was called; an out.

However, Bell had a chance to tie up, or even finish the game off in the 12th with 1 out and a runner on 3rd, but squandered his chance. Not good, but there's still 161 games left. The team needs to produce at Bell's and Burger's pace.


Luis Arraez Starts the year 0-6: It was tough to watch, but last year's batting champion went hitless in 6 attempts at the plate. Luis had several opportunities to cash in but came up short each time. He batted in the leadoff--he was supposed to kickstart the offense after Jesus Luzardo got himself in a slight pickle to start the game--and he went down in 4 quick pitches in the 1st.

This kind of game likely won't ever happen again, I'll put the money I don't have in my bank account on that bet. I'm just hoping it doesn't rattle him throughout the series. The team needs Arraez and rely on his consistency to compete, so he should put this one in the past and try again on Friday.

Sixto Sanchez Gets His First Big Opportunity--Blows It: I've got a lot of love for Sixto, and seeing him shine in Spring Training after being away from the game for 2 years was a joy to watch. Seeing him get the call to defend a 1-run lead was also a joy because it shows Miami has faith in him getting back to the form he once had. His first batter in the 8th smacked a homerun to left field and tied the game, throwing away Luzardo's 8-strikeout performance. It certainly rattled Sixto, and the pitch wasn't even that bad. Oneil Cruz just had a better swing.

Despite the homerun visibly bothering Sixto, he got over it quick and retired the next 3 batters to finish off the top half of the 8th. He threw mostly strikes and had fastballs hitting 97 mph. He's likely to continue coming out of the bullpen as the Marlins consider replacements for the injured starting pitchers. The team was 6 outs away from a win and Sixto will likely get a big chunk of the blame, but he still had a few positive takeaways.

Skip Shumaker Making the WRONG Decisions: The reigning Coach of the Year had a similar game to the reigning Silver Slugger Luis Arraez; a bad one. The first questionable decision was pulling Luzardo after 5 innings of 2-run work. I mostly agreed with the idea because Jesus was nearing 100 pitches and it's Opening Day--no need to overwork your starter the way Pittsburgh did with Mitch Keller. It turned out, however, to be the wrong choice as George Soriano loaded the bases immediately after taking the mound. After giving up 2 hits and a walk, Shumaker then gave the ball to Andrew Nardi--which would have been the correct initial decision. Nardi got out of the jam, but then gave up a homerun and a 2nd earned run in the 7th, ending his day and giving the Pirates more momentum than when he first took the mound.

The next bad idea was substituting Jesus Sanchez for Avisail Garcia earlier than anyone expected. Jesus Sanchez, by the way, was one of Miami's top prospects and is seen as a future star for the Marlins, whereas Avisail is Miami's least-liked veteran and is widely seen as a failed project since being acquired by Miami in 2021. That poor decision ended with a strikeout and a squandered opportunity to end the game in the bottom of the 10th (2 outs with a runner on 3rd). Avisail gave Marlins fans more reasons to dislike him, and Skip is to blame for that. Don't bench Jesus for this bum. In fact, don't play Avisail at all. Send him to the minors and bring up Conine's kid or 1 of the 5 rookies who impressed us in Spring Training. It's only game 1 of 162, but those were early blunders by Skip that should not go unnoticed moving forward.


Miami played an exciting game and they started the first 5 innings better than most baseball fans expected them to, but they lost in an all-too familiar way. Subbing in the wrong guys, choking away leads, and not producing with runners in scoring position (2-17) were the nails in the coffin for Opening Day. The little hype we had shouldn't die down so quick in Miami, so expect these issues to be fixed in the next few games and series. On to Friday and AJ Puk's first start of the year...


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