Marlins’ simple formula: Beat Pirates, seal wild-card bid

Field Level Media

September 30, 2023 at 7:00 am.

Sleep? The Miami Marlins don’t need no stinking sleep.

They overcame nearly an all-nighter as they arrived in Pittsburgh on Friday morning, then came back to beat the Pirates that night in the first game of a three-game series. The Marlins are now on the brink of clinching a National League wild-card spot.

Miami secured a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh, and its magic number for sealing a playoff berth is down to one. A victory by the Marlins (83-76) or one loss each for both the Chicago Cubs (82-78) and the Cincinnati Reds (82-78) would send Miami to the postseason.

The Marlins currently hold the third and final NL wild-card position, but they are also just a half-game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks (84-76) in the chase for the second wild card.

“We’re not going to back down,” Marlins first baseman Josh Bell, who hit a two-run double on Friday during a decisive four-run eighth, told Bally Sports. “Our backs are against the wall. All we need is a shot.

“It’s go time now. It’s crunch time. We’re definitely pumped to pull through.”

Miami manager Skip Schumaker could tell the lack of sleep and disruption in the standard routine affected his players, but he also saw them rebound.

“They were lethargic, tired. … You could tell,” he said. “But as the game kept going, they felt better. You could feel the energy a little bit more.

“Meaningful games right now (are) important for that clubhouse, this organization.”

The very long night began Thursday with the Marlins playing the Mets in New York. Miami took a 2-1 lead with two runs in the top of the ninth before there was an extended rain delay. It wasn’t until around 1 a.m. that the game was suspended, so the Marlins did not arrive at their hotel in Pittsburgh until nearly 5 a.m.

Thursday’s game would resume Monday afternoon in New York, if necessary, but the Marlins can render that possibility moot with one more victory in Pittsburgh.

The Marlins also got some good news when second baseman Luis Arraez, the NL batting leader who hadn’t played since Sept. 23 because of an ankle injury, pinch-hit in the eighth inning on Friday. He singled and left for a pinch runner, so it’s unclear how close he is returning to the starting lineup.

Arraez is batting .354.

Pittsburgh (75-84) has lost four of five and is trying to play spoiler with the playoffs long out of reach.

With the defeat on Friday — the Pirates blew a three-run lead — they missed out on a chance to finish .500 at home. They are 38-41 with the two games of this series remaining.

The Pirates were victims of their dearth of starters down the stretch. They went with a bullpen game on Friday, with the first four pitchers holding Miami scoreless through 7 1/3 innings.

However, Colin Selby gave up four runs without getting an out in the Marlins’ deciding four-run eighth.

“The game was damn near scripted exactly how we had it,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “And then (Selby) left the ball in the middle of the plate.”

Pittsburgh announced after Friday’s game that Quinn Priester (3-2, 7.86 ERA) would start on Saturday.

The rookie right-hander will be making his 10th appearance, and eighth start after splitting this season between the major leagues and Triple-A Indianapolis. He has not faced Miami.

In his latest outing, Priester held the Cincinnati Reds to two runs in six innings during a no-decision on Sunday.

JT Chargois (1-0, 3.67 ERA) will serve as an opener for Miami on Saturday. The right-hander has filled that role four times in his 44 appearances this year. Chargois has faced the Pirates twice in his career, throwing one scoreless inning on July 3, 2018, and 1 1/3 scoreless innings this year on June 24.