Ruing the games that got away, Marlins try to sweep Giants

MLB Baseball

It’s extremely early in the MLB season, but Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly isn’t oblivious to how well his team is playing.

The Marlins, who have won six of their past seven games, will try to sweep the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re 7-7, but we’ve blown three saves,” Mattingly said. “If we don’t blow those saves, this is a 10-4 club.”

The Giants, who arrived in Miami having won three consecutive series, know first-hand how much of a battle it is to play the Marlins right now.

Miami won the opener of this series, 4-1, on Friday. On Saturday, the Marlins won 7-6 on Jorge Alfaro’s two-out, two-run, walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Alfaro beat Giants reliever Jarlin Garcia, who began his career with Miami.

“We had Jarlin here, and I remember the way he likes to pitch,” Alfaro said. “He likes to pitch up in the zone. I just tried to make hard contact. … I’m really excited right now.”

The Giants, who scored one run over the first 15 innings of this series, broke out for five runs in Saturday’s seventh frame. That included a solo homer by Brandon Belt, who extended his on-base streak in games against the Marlins to 28.

Belt also had an RBI double in the top of the 10th inning, putting the Giants in the lead … until Alfaro’s big hit.

On Sunday, San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler will start left-hander Alex Wood, who will make his Giants debut.

Wood, 30, signed with the Giants in January, getting a one-year deal for $3 million.

However, Wood suffered a back injury that kept him out until now, when he is set to become the first lefty to start for the Giants this season. Wood replaces right-hander Logan Webb in the rotation.

“Wood is very excited, and Webb was an absolute pro about it,” Kapler said. “We feel Webb was better suited to come out the bullpen as a weapon.”

In his career against the Marlins, Wood is 6-4 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 appearances, including 12 starts. At Marlins Park, he is 4-2 with a 3.25 ERA in nine appearances, including seven starts.

Wood, however, doesn’t necessarily fare better against lefty hitters (.249 career batting average) than those on the right side (.251).

Miami will counter Wood with right-hander Pablo Lopez (0-1, 4.60 ERA), who has faced the Giants just once in his career. That was in 2019, when he allowed one run in six innings in a Marlins victory.

Lopez, 25, has made 45 starts in the majors — enough for a track record to develop. He is 13-17 with a 4.48 ERA, which means that his numbers this year are in line with his career profile.

Lefty hitters bat .278 against him. Righty batters hit .221. Another interesting trend: he has a 6.41 road ERA but 3.14 at Marlins Park, where he will be on Sunday.

Lopez may not have to face Giants catcher Buster Posey, who was hit by a 90-mph pitch in Saturday’s seventh inning. Posey, struck just above his left elbow, was replaced by Curt Casali, who may also start on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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