Marlins win virus-delayed home opener, beat Braves
MIAMI — Jesus Aguilar drove in three runs, Jon Berti stole home and the NL East-leading Miami Marlins won their long-awaited, coronavirus-delayed home opener, beating the Atlanta Braves 8-2 Friday night.
Miami returned to Marlins Park following a 23-day road trip, interrupted when 18 players and two coaches tested positive for the virus. After a week quarantined in Philadelphia, the Marlins resumed play at Baltimore on Aug. 4 and later traveled to New York to face the Mets and then to Buffalo to play Toronto.
The Marlins improved to 9-4.
“It’s not like a regular opening day. Usually an opening day is the building full, a lot of excitement, flyovers,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s just not the same. I know it’s the home opener but it doesn’t like feel much of one.”
Pablo Lopez (2-1) allowed two runs, seven hits and struck out a career-high eight in six solid innings.
“We were really eager and excited to come home and play our first home game,” Lopez said. “It was fun to see the guys behind me making plays, and the aggressiveness on the bases. It was a really fun game all around. We hope to keep our foot on the gas.”
Magneuris Sierra’s bunt scored Eddy Alvarez from third in the fourth to give Miami a 3-2 lead. Berti added another run in the inning, stealing home on the front end of a double steal.
Miami stole three additional bases, including two from Jonathan Villar. Sierra also stretched a single into a double in the sixth.
“Speed is a difficult thing to deal with,” Mattingly said. “When you have speed it just puts a little bit of pressure everywhere. You know back to the same old thing, you can’t steal first. You have to have guys on base who can hit. We are building a club with more and more speed.”
Miami capitalized on Atlanta starter Kyle Wright’s wildness in the third for a 2-1 lead. Wright surrendered Villar’s RBI double and walked the next three batters.
“They’re foot loose and fancy free right now,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said of the Marlins. “They’re hitting the ball, taking the next base. You’ve got to make pitches. You can’t walk them.”
Adam Duvall’s run-scoring double tied it in the fourth before Wright (0-3) was chased after his sixth walk that started the bottom of the inning.
“It’s kind of been the story of the season so far, I’ve been coming out of the gates hot, pitching well those first couple of innings then having some road blocks in the middle,” said Wright, who threw 19 pitches in the first two innings before finishing with 65 in his three-plus innings outing. “I lost command. I beat myself today.”
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