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Marlins Clinch Playoff Berth

📸 Photo Credit: Miami Marlins/Twitter

THE BRONX — The Miami Marlins are postseason bound. 

After getting Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu to ground into a game ending double-play, the exuberant echoes of a postseason berth was the only sound that could be heard in the House that Steinbrenner built.

On this day six years ago, the New York Yankees witnessed their iconic shortstop Derek Jeter hit a walkoff single in his final game of his Hall of Fame career. Today, they witnessed the franchise he acquired in 2017  clinch a playoff berth on Yankee Stadium soil. It’s safe to say, there’s no place like The Bronx for Derek Jeter. 

For many teams across the league, solidifying a position in the postseason is a constant battle as closely knit playoff races come near the regular season’s checkered flag. 

Prior to Friday’s matchup, both the New York Yankees and Miami Marlins were clutching onto second place in their respected eastern divisions, with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies breathing down their necks. 

(So much for social distancing) 

But with a 6-4 Tampa Bay Rays win over the Phillies Friday night and a Marlins victory, the National League East team cemented their place in the postseason. The first time the team has clinched a playoff berth since 2003, the same year they went onto claim the World Series title  in six games against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

At the end of the night the berth could not be made possible without the dominant performance of 25-year-old and Azua Dominican Republic native Sandy Alcantara. 

In his first pitching appearance against the New York Yankees, Alcantara maintained a groove that remained forceful against the bombers lineup early on. Despite giving up a RBI to both Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks in the second inning, the 2019 All-Star handed pitcher showcased his heat throwing abilities to give the Marlins the edge they needed.

Alcantara’s electric performance was placed on pause when Don Mattingly plucked Yami Garcia from the bullpen in the middle of the eighth inning. Garcia would give up the one-run lead to Aaron Hicks, who singled in pinch runner Mike Tauchman to keep the Yankees hopes alive. 

Despite the glimmer of hope from the bombers, it wasn’t enough to carry them to a walkoff win. In the tenth inning, basic fundamentals got the best of the Yankees. With pinch runner Monte Harrison on third, Kyle Higashioka attempted to maintain a run-down on the third baseline but instead threw at his back, allowing all runners to be safe. Ultimately, feeding the Marlins the momentum they needed to score the winning run on a sac-fly in the next at-bat. 

Yes, a reason to celebrate is the knowing it has been 17 years since the Marlins have played October baseball. But another reason to celebrate is knowing the tremendous amount of adversity the Marlins have had to face after a widespread infection of COVID-19 throughout the organization in July.

As a 60-game season proves to be a nail biter for the vast majority of the league, it’s unequivocally everything we needed it to be. Down to the nitty gritty. We didn’t expect a runaway division winner because, one, where’s the fun in that? Despite the Los Angeles Dodgers winning 40 games in the 2020 season, the San Diego Padres are at a decent winning pace with a 34-22 (.607) record. As a second second place team they are considered legitimate playoff contenders. 

Yankees Need Veteran Caliber Outing From Rookie García as Yankees Hold On Postseason Control Dissipates   

The Yankees will place rookie pitcher Deivi García on the mound against the Marlins Saturday afternoon. The 21-year-old right-handed pitcher has been called to keep the stitches together within a Yankees starting rotation that is fractured without their most notable pitchers. In his five starting appearances, García stands even with a 2-2 record and a 4.88 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched. 

The Yankees have lost five of their last six games since going on a 10-game winning streak in the second and third week of September. The Yankees lost four of their last six games at the end of the 2019 season and went on to play to Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.  

Even though the Yankees’ playoff picture is blurred with unknown factors, the eagerness of October baseball lingers within the Yankees clubhouse.

“Very exciting to understand and know playoffs are around the corner,” García said before the series opener against the Marlins on Friday. “For me it’s important to put a good plan in place and go out there and execute that plan. Especially in tough moments, you want to execute as fast as you can and follow the plan of attack.”

2020 has been nothing short of a challenge for all those across the diamond. Numerous players from the depths of the minor leagues have been called to make an imprint on the big stage.

“Very different season, especially tough for minor leaguers,” García said concerning the call to action in a shortened season. “But overall talking about the experience here and those four outings, it has been a great learning experience for me. Everyday there’s an opportunity to keep on learning and keep expanding as a player. To be here, to learn from everything going on here it’s a blessing and thank God for that blessing.”

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