The Miami Marlins broke a five year slide and achieved a franchise first with their Opening Day win.
On the surface, that’s not a particularly significant accomplishment. Yet every win is magnified when the season is only sixty games long. What’s more, for the Miami Marlins, winning on Opening Day had started to feel like anything but a fifty-fifty proposition.
The last time the Marlins started a season 1-0? That would be 2014.
To put that in perspective, not a single player on the 2020 Opening Day roster for the Marlins was there for that long ago win against the Colorado Rockies. Only a handful were even in the Marlins system. Same goes for coaches, as that was two Marlins managers ago. Jeffrey Loria still owned the team. And your Opening Day starting pitcher? Jose Fernandez took the mound that day for Miami, striking out nine en route to picking up his first win of the year.
However, that is not to say these two Miami Marlins squads were without similarities. Both teams entered their respective seasons not expected to win, but definitely to improve. Both teams had undergone recent selloffs, but were now in the next stage of their rebuild. Both teams had also identified a franchise ace, a stellar young pitcher they hoped to build around. Last night’s winner, Sandy Alcantara, is easily the most talented Opening Day starter the Marlins have had since Fernandez in 2014.
Miami Marlins Make History
Even more exciting for Miami Marlins fans than the win itself is what it represents historically. Care to guess the last time the Fish found themselves with a share of first place in the NL East this late in the season?
Believe it or not, despite two world championships, the answer is never.
Prior to yesterday, the latest into the calendar the Marlins have ever laid claim to the top spot in their division was June 30th. That effort came on behalf of the defending champs in 2004. Being in first place in June at all has only happened three times, a feat most recently achieved by that aforementioned 2014 squad. Of course, as all fans of the Miami Marlins know, winning the division doesn’t really matter as long as you make the playoffs. The franchise has, after all, never lost a playoff series.
That’s not to diminish how good it feels to say you’re in first place with less than two months to play though. And if that claim ends up being true for a week from now, calendar math alone will dictate the need for some serious excitement.
Those 2014 Miami Marlins did end up making a massive talent jump, even becoming buyers at the Trade Deadline. With an expanded playoff field in 2020, so far so good on the 2020 Marlins taking a similar path.