The Miami Marlins find themselves in an unusual situation as they gear up for the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, and it's a stark contrast from the lethargic start they endured on Friday. The Marlins managed to secure a hard-fought comeback victory with a score of 4-3 after a grueling night that included a suspended game against the New York Mets due to rain.
They arrived at their Pittsburgh hotel just before dawn, facing sleep deprivation due to these exceptional circumstances. However, Sunday paints a different picture. Any signs of fatigue will likely stem from the Marlins' (84-76) exhilarating triumph the previous night, clinching a National League wild-card spot with a resounding 7-3 win over the Pirates (75-86), followed by a jubilant celebration.
Chisholm: Marlins' Playoff Determination
Outfielder Jazz Chisholm Jr., who played a pivotal role with a home run and two RBIs on Saturday, expressed the Marlins' determination to secure their playoff berth without delay.
"As soon as (Saturday's) game started, we already knew it was clinch day," he remarked in a celebratory locker room interview. "We didn't come into this game expecting to clinch (Sunday); we came in to clinch (Saturday), and that's what we did." The Marlins' success under first-year manager Skip Schumaker marks a significant achievement.
"This is what it's all about," Schumaker declared, likening himself to a proud father. "I'm just like a proud dad, looking at all these kids. They grew up from spring training to now." This season marks the Marlins' return to the postseason for the first time following a full-schedule season since their 2003 World Series victory.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates head into the offseason with an improved record and a promising group of young players who gained invaluable big-league experience, and in some instances, achieved considerable success. Despite their 62-100 finish in 2022, the Pirates have made substantial progress, potentially ending this season with a 13- or 14-win improvement compared to the previous year, depending on the Sunday game's outcome.
Even in defeat, rookie pitcher Quinn Priester expressed optimism about the future. "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 stated.
Rookie Endy Rodriguez shared Priester's enthusiasm for the franchise's future, stating, "I think this team is going to be something special in the future." As for Sunday's starting pitchers, neither team has made an official announcement.
The Pirates may opt for a bullpen game as they lack a clear-cut starter, while the Marlins, having used multiple pitchers on Saturday, are expected to manage their rotation strategically with an eye on the upcoming playoffs.
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