A lot has happened to the Miami Marlins and New York Mets in the first two weeks of perhaps the most unusual baseball season of all-time.
The red-hot and suddenly very busy Marlins will look to match the best eight-game start in franchise history Friday night when they visit the Mets in the opener of a three-game series between the National League East rivals.
Miami will give the ball to Opening Day starter Sandy Alcantara while New York, which had its first off day of the season Thursday, will turn to veteran Michael Wacha.
The Marlins made some team history Thursday night when they beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-6 for their fifth straight win. The four-game sweep in Baltimore improved the Marlins to 6-1, matching the franchise's best record through seven games. The finale of the sweep also gave manager Don Mattingly a team-record 282 victories with the club.
The four straight wins over the Orioles served as yet another reminder of the strange nature of this season for the Marlins, who had seven games postponed from July 27 through Aug. 3 because 18 players tested positive for the coronavirus during and following the season-opening series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Marlins, who have been on the road since the second spring training ended on July 22, added 19 players to the roster prior to Tuesday's game. The series opener against the Orioles and the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader were makeups of games scheduled to be played in Baltimore July 29-30. The second game Wednesday and Thursday's finale were makeups of the games originally scheduled to be played in Florida on July 27-28, which meant Miami was the "home" team at Camden Yards.
"I feel like we've been playing for half a season," Mattingly said Wednesday. "It's been a rough trip, as far as all that's happened to us."
After his historic win Thursday, the manager received a bottle of champagne, with a caveat.
"Nice little bottle of bubbly for a train ride that you're not allowed to eat or drink on," Mattingly said with a laugh. "Don't want to drink because we'll spread the particles in the air."
As for Friday's starter, Alcantara (1-0, 1.35 ERA) last pitched on July 24. He held the Phillies to two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in a 5-2 Marlins win. He is 2-3 in his career against the Mets, but does sport a 2.79 ERA in eight career starts against the club.
While the Marlins spent more than a week in limbo, the Mets ended a stretch of 13 games in as many days Wednesday. They were one of eight teams to play 13 games through Wednesday.
The rest came at an opportune time for the Mets, who have lost six of its last eight.
"I know a lot of the guys are a little banged up -- not necessarily injured, just (from) playing 13 straight days in a row," Mets infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis said Wednesday night. "Having lack of sleep here and there is definitely grinding. It's not only a physical toll but a mental toll. This off-day is going to be much-needed."
Wacha (1-1, 6.00) took the loss last Saturday after giving up five runs over four innings as the Mets fell to the Atlanta Braves 7-1. He is 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins, however.
--Field Level Media