Miami Marlins: Offense shines in opener

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Giancarlo Stanton opened 2014 with two hits and a pair of RBIs. (Frank Couts)

Marlins open 2014 with 10-1 victory

As anticipated, Miami Marlins’ starting pitcher Jose Fernandez shined in his 2014 debut. Fernandez went six strong innings allowing just a run on five hits without allowing a walk and striking out nine. As good as Fernandez was, the Miami offense was stellar pushing across 10 runs on 14 hits in a 10-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

While there was nothing new about Fernandez’s dominance, the offensive power surge was certainly not there a season ago. In 2013, the Marlins finished last in baseball in virtually every offensive category. Miami managed just a single run in its opening series last season against the Washington Nationals and it wasn’t until the fifth game of 2013 that the Fish hit double digits scoring for the season.

It’s still too early to anoint Miami as an offensive juggernaut, but pushing 10 runs across was something that the Marlins did just four times all of last season.

It was a very pedestrian night for the two most heralded offseason acquisitions as catcher Jarrod Satalamacchia and first baseman Garrett Jones combined to go just 1-for-8 with an infield single from Saltalamacchia being the only hit. But for another new Marlin, Monday night was a debut to remember.

Third baseman Casey McGehee spent all of 2013 playing in Japan and had come to accept the fact that his baseball career could end in Asia. In his return to Major League Baseball on Monday, McGehee plated four runs with a pair of doubles including a bases-clearing shot down the third base line in the fifth that turned what was a 3-0 Miami lead into a laugher. Jeff Baker — another newcomer on the Miami infield — also plated a run for the Fish.

Though he didn’t hit any moon-shots on Monday, Marlins’ outfielder Giancarlo Stanton plated a pair of runs while having a 2-for-5 night. Christian Yelich was able to overcome three strikeouts to finish with a pair of hits, two runs scored and a RBI against the Colorado team that he made his big league debut against last season.

While outfielders Stanton and Yelich each had a stellar opener, the best night for the Miami outfield belonged to Marcell Ozuna. With Yelich, Stanton and top prospect Jake Marisnick all playing the outfield, Ozuna was far from a lock to make the Opening Day roster, more less be in the starting lineup.

Facing the club he suffered a season-ending wrist injury against last July, Ozuna finished a triple shy of the cycle on Monday night. Ozuna finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and his solo home run in the third inning broke a scoreless tie.

Hitting in the eight-hole for Miami was shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Like Ozuna, Hechavarria also had three hits to pick up where he left off after a solid Spring. Hechavarria’s hot start was particularly encouraging after the Miami shortstop hit just .227 a season ago. Hechavarria also scored two runs while driving in another.

On the night, five Marlins had multi-hit games while four scored at least two runs. As a team, Miami went an ungodly 8-for-15 with runners in scoring position. Even Greg Dobbs added a pinch-hit for the Fish with a single while hitting for Fernandez in the sixth inning.

Monday’s 10-run, 14-hit effort may not be a sign of things to come for Miami for the entire 2014 season, but hopefully for the Marlins, it is an indicator that the club is far less inept at the plate than it was a season ago. With a number of good young arms headlined by Fernandez, the Marlins have a potentially solid rotation. On too many occasions last season however, good starts were squandered with poor offensive outputs.

Though the Miami lineup couldn’t be much worse than it was a season ago, Monday’s win over Colorado might be a sign that it’s much, much better.

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