The Orioles began Tuesday set to play the Marlins at Camden Yards in a matchup more than a week overdue. But the problem was, no one knew exactly who the Marlins were nearly up until first pitch.
They are a team decimated by an outbreak of COVID-19 in the clubhouse, which caused an incredible number of transactions before Tuesday’s game.
The Marlins put 17 players on the injured list (with one opt out), then added an astonishing 18 new players to play as replacements. Seven were newly acquired players and 11 were players from the team’s alternate training site. From the team’s last game on July 26, 60 percent of their roster had been overturned.
Miami brought up heralded prospects, old veterans and even a former Olympic medalist, in speedskating, to make up the new-look roster. It was, by all accounts, one of the more unique roster-building moments in recent MLB history.
But despite all that, the Orioles managed just three hits and never threatened offensively as the Marlins won their first game in more than a week in a 4-0 Orioles defeat.
“I thought (starting pitcher Pablo) Lopez’s pitching played a part in the outcome,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We just didn’t swing the bat very well, and didn’t hit very many balls hard.”
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Hyde remarked pregame that the Marlins’ roster turnover made it especially difficult to prepare, considering he hadn’t seen the Marlins’ 30-man roster with less than two hours to go before first pitch. The turnover, though, was remarkable.
Miami’s bullpen started the season with 12 relievers on the Opening Day roster. Tuesday, eight of those players were on the injured list.
That meant the Marlins had to search far and wide across baseball for players to fill out the lineup card. One of those new additions was former Orioles reliever Richard Bleier, traded after a win last week over the Rays. For good measure, Bleier threw one inning Tuesday and struck out one batter with zero hits allowed.
The Marlins' starter, Lopez, threw five innings of two-hit ball which stifled the Orioles' offense, which had been hot to start the season.
But not only did the ragtag Marlins have a totally new roster, there was some question about whether or not a game would even occur.
After some COVID-19 tests for the Marlins came back inconclusive, the game was delayed 45 minutes while players from both sides waited for results.
“I wouldn’t say any circumstance kind of was the reason for the outcome today,” Orioles pitcher John Means said. “Everybody showed up, and they just out-pitched us, and they won.”
Means showed up at the ballpark at 3:45 for a coronavirus test, then went home and waited for further instruction.
“We were kind of lost on it,” he said.
For his part, Means didn’t let the delay affect him. He threw 4 ⅔ innings, allowed two hits and one earned run — a home run — which ended his night after 72 pitches.
Means’ home run allowed was all the Marlins’ pitching staff needed, as five pitchers combined to pitch a three-hitter in a surprising victory after the team’s suspended season.
Baltimore fell to 5-4 with the loss with a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday.
“We’ve been taking really good at-bats off some really good pitching so far this season, and tonight, it just didn’t happen for us offensively,” Hyde said. “We never really got a rally going...We didn’t put any pressure on them defensively.”
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