When the Miami Marlins visit the San Francisco Giants on Saturday for the second game of their seasons, pay attention to the catchers.
The Marlins lost on Friday, 6-5 in 10 innings, but don’t blame catcher Jacob Stallings. After being acquired in an offseason trade, Stallings was sensational in his Marlins debut, hitting a two-run homer, dumping an RBI single, picking a runner off at second base, and throwing out a runner trying to steal.
San Francisco also got excellent catching as rookie Joey Bart hit his first major-league homer.
“I kind of grabbed him before the game, and I said, ‘Let’s do something special’,” Giants starter Logan Webb said of Bart, who is replacing the retired Buster Posey. “He did so (well). I’m excited for him.”
The Giants also are excited about lefty Carlos Rodon, who signed a two-year, $44 million contract with San Francisco last month. He will start against Miami on Saturday.
Last year, Rodon pitched a no-hitter, became an All-Star for the first time and finished fifth in the American League Cy Young Award voting with the Chicago White Sox. Rodon, born in Miami, went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 24 starts.
The key for Rodon, according to scouts, was getting in better shape before the 2021 season. He threw his fastball at 97 mph and perfected the so-called “voodoo” slider.
When he is on, Rodon overpowers hitters. He struck out a career-best 12.6 batters per nine innings, and his walk rate (2.4) also was his best-yet effort.
Miami will counter with right-hander Pablo Lopez, who has played his entire career with the Marlins. In four big-league seasons, he is 18-21 with a 4.04 ERA.
Last year, in his fourth-big league season, Lopez went 5-5 with a career-best 3.07 ERA in 20 starts.
Both Rodon and Lopez have had some shoulder injuries, and it will be interesting to see how long they will go on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Marlins hope to get support from an offense that featured mostly Stallings and second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the opener.
Chisholm’s two-run, opposite-field homer in the top of the ninth inning gave the Marlins a 5-4 lead.
However, no Marlins player other than Stallings and Chisholm had an RBI.
Besides Stallings, three players made their Marlins debut on Friday: left fielder Jorge Soler went 0-for-5, right fielder Avisail Garcia went 1-for-5, and third baseman Joey Wendle went 1-for-3 with a throwing error that led to a Giants run.
In addition, Miami’s holdovers in the lineup included shortstop Miguel Rojas, DH Jesus Aguilar and first baseman Garrett Cooper.
Both teams will look for more from their bullpen on Saturday.
San Francisco’s Camilo Doval blew a save opportunity in the top of the ninth inning, allowing three runs.
Miami’s Anthony Bender blew a save in the bottom of the ninth, allowing a homer to Thairo Estrada.
“He beat me to the spot and got all of it,” Bender said of Estrada.
Miami’s Anthony Bass took the loss by allowing Austin Slater’s RBI double in the 10th inning.
–Field Level Media