Marlins owner Jeff Loria has high expectations:
“How may wins am I expecting? I never predict but I will say we’re
working off an 87-win season last year and I expect us to make the
playoffs. Whatever it takes for us to make the playoffs is what we need
to win . . . They are well-positioned to make the playoffs. We have all the ammunition we need.”
It doesn’t take a tremendous leap of faith to imagine the Marlins making a run at the wild card. As Loria himself notes in the interview an extra win a month last year would have put them in. That’s baseball of course,* but Loria is right to think that the Marlins should be competitive.
But being competitive has only rarely been a problem for the Marlins. The real problem has been their parsimony. The real question being, if the Marlins find themselves in a close race , whether Loria will allow the team to take on a bit of payroll to put them over the top.
*See “one extra flair a week, just one. A gork, you get a ground ball, you get a ground ball with eyes! You get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee Stadium.”
Despite the earlier rain, the All-Star Game got underway on time and following the usual pregame festivities Max Scherzer took the hill to face the American League.
Scherzer did great in the first inning, striking out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve and then, following a walk to Mike Trout and giving up a single to J.D. Matinez, retired Jose Ramirez on a weak popup. Scherzer was cooing with gas: the reigning Cy Young winner had not thrown a pitch as fast as 98 m.p.h. all season, but he threw three of those during his scoreless first.
Chris Sale‘s work in the bottom half was more about nasty stuff than mere heat. Following a leadoff single allowed to Javier Baez he got Nolan Arenado to fly out to left, struck out Paul Goldschmidt on a nasty slider and then got Freddie Freeman out via a fly to left.
Aaron Judge led off the second. The same Aaron Judge someone wrote today could be trade bait if the Yankees felt so inclined. Which, um, OK, that was dumb anyway, but it looked even dumber when Judge muscled Scherzer’s second pitch — a letter-high fastball — out to left field with many, many feet to spare for a homer.
Scherzer got the rest of the A.L. side, but the damage had been done. The American League leads 1-0 after an inning and a half.