(Photo credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
The visiting Miami Marlins could be at less than their best Sunday for their series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even, perhaps, hungover.
It will be much different from Friday. That game, Miami was lethargic for the first several innings in what became a comeback 4-3 win after a long,frustrating night that included a game Thursday night in New York against the Mets that was suspended by rain at about 1 a.m. Friday. The Marlins got to their Pittsburgh hotel not all that long before dawn.
That was sleep deprivation based on unusual circumstances.
Sunday, anything left over from Saturday night instead will stem from the Marlins (84-76) clinching a National League wild-card spot with a 7-3 win over the Pirates (75-86) and the ensuing celebration.
According to outfielder Jazz Chisholm Jr., who homered and drove in two runs Saturday, the Marlins were determined to make Sunday moot, at least in terms of reaching the playoffs.
"As soon as (Saturday's) game started, we already knew it was clinch day," he told Bally Sports in a fizzy, beverage-soaked locker room. "We didn't come into this game expecting to clinch (Sunday); we came in to clinch (Saturday), and that's what we did."
They did it under Skip Schumaker in his first season as Miami manager.
"This is what it's all about," Schumaker told Bally Sports. "I'm just like a proud dad, looking at all these kids. They grew up from spring training to now."
Miami is headed to the postseason for the first time following a full-schedule season since 2003, when they won the World Series.
The Pirates, meanwhile, will enter the offseason with a notable improvement in their record and a stable of young players who got big-league experience -- and in some cases, a decent amount of success -- this year.
Pittsburgh finished 62-100 in 2022, a second straight season with triple-digit losses. There will be a 13- or 14-win improvement this season over last year, depending on Sunday's outcome.
That has produced some optimism -- even from Saturday's starter and losing pitcher, rookie Quinn Priester, who went 3-3 in 10 appearances (eight starts) this season.
"I've seen myself take really big strides, especially late in the year, to give myself a really good foundation to go into the offseason and really work on the things that I can control to be a really good big-league starter next year," he said.
Priester's batterymate Saturday, rookie Endy Rodriguez, has a similar sentiment for the entire franchise.
"I think this team is going to be something special in the future," he told ATT Sportsnet.
Neither team announced an expected starting pitcher for Sunday's game.
The Pirates don't have a bona fide starter available and likely will have a bullpen game. Miami used an opener and seven other pitchers Saturday and no doubt will make decisions with an eye toward setting things up for the playoffs.
--Field Level Media