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Marlins' bullpen implodes late as Braves rally to take Game 1

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 10/6/2020 By Wells Dusenbury, South Florida Sun Sentinel

After an early offensive outburst, the Marlins seemed well positioned to keep their playoff momentum rolling and take Game 1 against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Divisional Series. The bullpen, however, wasn’t up to the task.

Holding a one-run lead in the seventh, Miami coughed up six runs in the decisive frame, turning a tight game into a blowout as Atlanta rallied for a 9-5 victory.

Miami will look to even the five-game series on Wednesday. Game 2 of the NLDS is scheduled for 2:08 p.m. on MLB Network.

Making his second start of the postseason, Sandy Alcantara couldn’t replicate his strong outing against the Cubs, but kept Miami in the contest, allowing three runs through the first six innings. The 25-year-old right-hander ran into trouble in the seventh, allowing back-to-back singles to open the frame.

With Miami nursing a 4-3 lead, Marlins manager Don Mattingly turned to Yimi Garcia, who posted a .60 ERA in 14 regular-season appearances as the team’s top middle reliever. Garcia didn’t have it on Tuesday, though. After getting the first out, the right-hander surrendered the game-tying RBI single to Marcell Ozuna and then coughed up a back-breaking three-run homer to Travis d’Arnaud, giving Atlanta a 7-4 lead.

On Tuesday, d’Arnaud dominated Marlins' pitching, finishing 3 for 3 with a home run, double, four RBI and two walks.

After allowing a single in the next at bat, Garcia was relived by James Hoyt, who promptly served up a two-run home run to Dansby Swanson, breaking the game open.

Miami’s bullpen was a weak link through the team’s surprising 2020 run through the pandemic-shortened season. During the regular season, the Marlins' relievers posted the fifth-worst ERA (5.50) in baseball.

Making its their first playoff appearance since 2003, the Marlins jumped off to a hot start in Game 1, scoring four runs off in the first three innings off Braves' ace Max Fried. After Miami allowed a lead-off home run to Ronald Acuna Jr., Miguel Rojas quickly evened the contest with a 418-foot solo homer of his own in the second.

Miami plated three runs in the third inning, with two courtesy of a two-run Garrett Cooper double. Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson, who was hitless in his previous two playoff games, scored Cooper with an RBI single, giving Miami a 4-1 lead. Anderson finished the day 3 for 4 at the plate.

Fried, who finished the regular season 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA, lasted just four innings, allowing four runs on six hits. Atlanta’s bullpen, though, stepped up, giving up just one run in six innings of relief.

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