Kevin Newman slipped as he tapped Edward Cabrera’s slider below the strike zone into the air. A routine popup to shallow right field. One that should have ended the top of the fourth inning and stranded two runners.
Second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. and right fielder Jesus Sanchez both chased for the ball, Chisholm backpedaling as he reaches the outfield grass and Sanchez slowing down as he stretches out his glove to make the play.
The teammates don’t see each other. The ball bounces off Sanchez’s glove as the two collide. Newman makes it to first base. The Pittsburgh Pirates score two runs to send the Miami Marlins on their way to a 6-3 loss on Saturday at loanDepot park.
The play, originally ruled a two-run single before an error was charged to Sanchez, had a 17-percent probability of falling for a hit, according to Statcast.
And it put a sour end to Cabrera’s fifth MLB start. The 23-year-old right-hander and the No. 30 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline had maneuvered around traffic all night. Cabrera scattered five hits and walked three more but held the Pirates to an unearned run (Ke’Bryan Hayes scored on a wild pitch after leading off the game with a double) while striking out a career-high seven batters before the error brought in the final two runs against him.
The Pirates (56-92) added two more runs in the fifth against Sean Guenther to extend their lead and another in the seventh against Paul Campbell.
The Marlins (62-86) broke up the shutout when catcher Nick Fortes, making his MLB debut, belted a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the fifth. Fortes, who also recorded a leadoff single in the third, is the eighth Marlins player to hit a home run in his MLB debut and the first since Isan Diaz did so off Jacob deGrom on Aug. 5, 2019. He is the fourth catcher, joining Mike Redmond (May 31, 1998 at Milwaukee), Charles Johnson (May 6, 1994 against the Philadelphia Phillies) and Mitch Lyden (June 16, 1993 at the Chicago Cubs).
Lewis Brinson added a two-out RBI single in the ninth on a popup to the pitcher’s mound that no one fielded.
Pablo Lopez faces live hitters
Marlins right-handed pitcher Pablo Lopez faced live hitters on Saturday for the first time since being returned from his rehab assignment on Aug. 28. Lopez threw 21 pitches off the mound, primarily throwing fastballs but mixing in some breaking pitches as well, with Sandy Leon and Alex Jackson alternating at-bats.
“It’s always fun to be back on the mound,” Lopez said with a smile afterward.
Lopez’s next step in his progression is still to-be-determined. The end goal remains the same: Getting Lopez back on the active roster before the season ends if his health allows it.
Lopez has not pitched in an MLB game since before the All-Star break. More than anything, he wants clarity that he can go into the offseason without feeling like he’ll be rehabbing and that there won’t be a question mark about his status when spring training arrives. Getting into game action, even if its as an opener or in relief appearance-type spurts, would solidify that although it’s not necessarily a must for Lopez.
“Obviously getting into one or two game would be pretty fun. I would be really happy with that,” Lopez said, “but the main thing is knowing that I’m my arm will be fully healthy.”
In 19 starts this season, Lopez has a 3.03 ERA with 111 strikeouts over 101 innings.
Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. called Lopez’s injury situation — he also dealt with shoulder injuries in 2018 and 2019 — frustrating.
“Personally, we’ve had a lot of time together and I know how much he cares and how hard he works,” Stottlemyre said. “We continue to look into how can we keep this guy healthy and still let him pitch and win games. We’re gonna look at some of those things in the offseason and look into possibly breaking and chopping his season into pieces. I don’t know. And I don’t have an answer.”