All season, the Miami Marlins have shown they can compete against the best teams in the National League.
Well, the best teams not named the Atlanta Braves, the team with MLB’s best record and the team that has won the National League East each of the past six years.
That changed this weekend.
Miami secured its first series sweep of the Braves in nearly eight years, capping the three-game set with a dominating 16-2 win on Sunday at loanDepot park. Miami won the first two games 9-6 on Friday and 11-5 on Saturday.
Miami’s last sweep of Atlanta was Sept. 25-27, 2015.
Prior to this series, Miami’s final against Atlanta (96-53) in the 2023 regular season, the Marlins had just one win in 10 games against the Braves.
And this offensive outburst — Miami’s 36 runs in a three-game span tied a franchise record — came after the Marlins were held to just five runs over four games against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Just how dominant was the Marlins’ offense in the series? Miami (78-72) had at least nine runs and 13 hits in all three games. Before this series, the Marlins only had four such games in franchise history and never in consecutive games.
They hit 10 home runs and had 19 total extra-base hits (also eight doubles and one triple) in the three games.
“It shows the fight we’ve got,” Marlins center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. said. “We just came out with a vengeance and had that fight in our heart that we’re not going to come out here and we’re not going to lay down. We’re not going to be bottom feeders every year.”
The Marlins needed to rally in order to win the first two games of the series, with a five-run seventh inning keying the win on Friday and a six-run eighth inning breaking a tie game on Saturday.
There was no need to worry on Sunday.
Chisholm led the way with the onslaught Sunday, slugging his second grand slam in as many days to put Miami up 5-0 early. He also drew three walks and scored four runs.
And then the Marlins kept tacking on.
Jorge Soler, playing in his first game since Sept. 5 following an injured list stint for an oblique strain, also belted out his team-leading 36th home run as part of a four-run sixth inning. Jake Burger added a three-run home run of his own in a four-run seventh. Nick Fortes, who had a career-high four hits Sunday, added a solo home run in the eighth.
Luis Arraez also had three hits, putting him one hit away from 200 on the season, and the Marlins as a whole drew nine walks.
“Baseball is just weird,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “We scored five runs in four games over there [in Milwaukee] and we face the Braves and we scored 30-something runs. It doesn’t make any sense, honestly. As soon as you think you’ve got this thing figured out, something else happens. ... They could have come in here hanging their heads after we just got our butt kicked in Milwaukee and here comes Atlanta. And then they put together three really good games.”
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Double grand slam Jazz
The Marlins went their first 148 games of the season without hitting a grand slam before Chisholm hit one in the eighth inning on Saturday.
Chisholm followed up in his second at-bat on Sunday with his second in as many days, taking a middle-away fastball from Charlie Morton fastball 417 feet to center field.
With that, Chisholm became the first player in Marlins history to hit grand slams in consecutive games. He is the third player in MLB this season to hit a grand slam in consecutive games, joining the Minnesota Twins’ Royce Lewis and Boston Red Sox’s Luis Urias.
It was the final hit of a five-run third inning for Miami, with Fortes, Arraez, Soler and Josh Bell all hitting singles before Chisholm’s grand slam.
In 86 games played this season, Chisholm has 18 home runs and 22 stolen bases. With 12 games left in the regular season, he has a chance to become just the fifth player in franchise history to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season. The others are Hanley Ramirez (four times — 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010), Preston Wilson (three times — 2000, 2001 and 2002), Cliff Floyd (two times — 1998 and 2000) and Derrek Lee (2003).
Jesus Luzardo shuts down Braves
Marlins left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo, making his 30th start of the season, held the Braves scoreless for six innings before turning the game over to the bullpen. Luzardo struck out eight while holding Atlanta to just four hits and two walks.
His only real spot of trouble came in the fourth inning when the Braves loaded the bases on a Marcell Ozuna leadoff single, a two-out Orlando Arcia walk and Eddie Rosario hit-by-pitch. Luzardo eliminated the threat by striking out Kevin Pillar.
After that, Luzardo allowed just one more hit — a leadoff double to Ozzie Albies in the fifth — over his final two innings. He struck out the side in the sixth.
On the season, Luzardo has a 3.68 ERA in 166 1/3 innings with 194 strikeouts. With one or two starts left in the season, Luzardo has a chance to become just the second left-handed pitcher in Marlins history to strike out 200 batters in a season. Al Leiter in 1996 is the only southpaw to accomplish the feat with the Marlins.
Seven total pitchers have had 200-strikeout seasons for the Marlins: Sandy Alcantara (2021 and 2022), Jose Fernandez (2016), Anibal Sanchez (2011), A.J. Burnett (2022), Ryan Dempster (2000), Kevin Brown (1997) and Leiter.
JT Chargois pitched a scoreless seventh inning, working out a leadoff double, before Chi Chi Gonzalez gave up two runs in the eighth and catcher Jacob Stallings pitched the ninth.
Where things stand in the playoff race
The Marlins’ win coupled with the Cincinnati Reds’ loss to the New York Mets means the Marlins will hold one of the National League’s three wild card spots after games end Sunday with 12 regular-season games left.
Exactly where they’ll stand at the end of Sunday will be dependent on the result Chicago Cubs-Arizona Diamondbacks game Sunday night.
Should the Diamondbacks win, Arizona will move ahead of the Cubs for the second wild card spot and the Marlins and Cubs will be tied for third. Miami owns the tiebreaker over the Cubs after winning four of six games against them this season.
Should the Cubs win, the Marlins will be alone in third place, with the Diamondbacks tied with the Reds a half-game behind Miami.