Emptying the notebook from the Miami Marlins’ three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, in which the Marlins lost all three games to the back-to-back AL East champions and are now on a five-game losing streak:
▪ When Miguel Rojas hit his solo home run in the third inning of Saturday’s 7-3 loss, he had one thought on his mind: Jose Fernandez.
Saturday was the five-year anniversary of Fernandez’s death in a boating accident when Fernandez’s 32-foot boat, Kaught Looking, crashed into a jetty on Government Cut. 24-year-old Fernandez and his two passengers, 27-year-old Emilio Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero, all died in the crash.
Rojas is the last player on the Marlins’ roster from that 2016 team and while the circumstances surrounding Fernandez’s death are controversial and cast a cloud on his legacy, Rojas still tries to focus on the positives from his time as Fernandez’s teammate.
Rojas’ full comments, as explained pregame Sunday:
“It was emotional for me. I had him on my mind since the morning and I always want to talk to my guys that experienced the loss we had that day and that experience and that moment. We’re always going to share something really special because that team overcame a lot of adversity, especially that time. As an organization, we had to tough it out and actually like do something that maybe other teams haven’t done in baseball in dealing with that. He wasn’t just the ace but the face of the franchise at the moment and the guy who everybody loved in Miami. He was more than just a baseball player. He was an icon for the city of Miami and in whole South Florida because everybody followed this guy.
“It was an emotional day for not just for me but for a lot of people. I texted Giancarlo [Stanton] last night. He hit a home run too [a go-ahead grand slam for the Yankees], so I texted him and I told him a we both hit homers on Nino day. It was emotional, like I said. Running the bases, I was thinking about him and I was thinking about a little story. So kind of in the same spot that I hit the ball, [Evan] Longoria hit a homer against him in one of his last starts here in in Tampa [on Oct. 1, 2015]. And I mean, like Jose’s way, he went to the end of the dugout while Longoria was playing third, and he was telling Longoria ‘You don’t have to hit it that far’ and Longo was saying ‘Hey, I don’t know. I just hit over there.’
“That’s the kind of thing that I keep remembering about Jose, about the person that he was, the light that he was in the clubhouse. I mean, I still can’t believe that that happened and that’s something that we’ve always gotta remember. Life is a precious thing and you have to just enjoy every single moment. Enjoy your friends. Love your family. Hug them. Every time we think about things like that, we think about how much we’ll miss him.”
▪ Rojas was removed from Saturday’s game before the eighth inning after aggravating an injury to the ring toe on his left foot. He had been dealing with minor pain with the toe since Tuesday, when Juan Soto slid head first trying to steal second base and clipped Rojas’ foot in the process.
“I didn’t know that it was going to become a problem,” Rojas said.
But the shortstop noted that he’s been feeling the pain “more and more” over the past couple days. Marlins manager Don Mattingly kept Rojas out of the starting lineup Sunday. Rojas hopes that having a couple days off (the Marlins don’t play Monday) will help him stay on the field for the final week of the season.
“I’m never gonna put the team in a bad spot if I don’t feel good and I don’t feel that I’m gonna do the best that I can do to help the team,” Rojas said. “That’s why I came out of the game [Saturday]. Sometimes Donnie gives you a day to figure things out. I’m trying something right now on my shoe, trying to keep the toe for moving side-to-side, so hopefully I can finish the season and play.”
▪ Some individual highlights from the three-game series: Jazz Chisholm Jr. snapped a three-game hitless streak with back-to-back multi-hit outings on Saturday and Sunday. ... Lewin Diaz’s ninth-inning home run went 401 feet. Five of his seven home runs this season have traveled at least 400 feet and all seven had a distance of at least 390 feet.
▪ The Marlins went 1-5 against the Rays and 3-17 overall against the American League this year. They were swept by the Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox and split their four-game season series with the Orioles.
▪ Max Meyer, the third-ranked prospect in the Marlins’ organization and the No. 31 overall prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, dazzled in his Triple A debut on Friday.
The 22-year-old right-handed pitcher struck out a career high 10 batters over five innings for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp while allowing just one run on a solo home run.
The Marlins promoted Meyer and fellow top prospect Peyton Burdick to Jacksonville for the final two weeks of the Triple A season after the rest of the stateside minor-league affiliates’ seasons ended last week.
“Just having him and Peyton, who have done very well this entire year, get a little taste of Triple A, get acclimated to what it looks like and where they’ll most likely be next year, was important,” general manager Kim Ng said. “Their season’s gone on longer, and it’s a way to get them more reps and innings.”
Meyer, the Marlins’ first-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, has been solid throughout his entire first season of professional baseball. Prior to Friday, he made 20 starts for the Double A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. His 2.41 ERA in those starts was the lowest among qualified pitchers at the Double A level. His 113 strikeouts over 101 innings were the sixth most strikeouts among pitchers at the level.
Burdick has gone 3 for 16 with two doubles, two walks, four runs scored and five strikeouts through his first 18 plate appearances in Triple A. He had a .231 batting average with 23 home runs, 76 walks and 71 runs scored in 106 games for Double A Pensacola before the promotion.
▪ Pablo Lopez threw a 21-pitch bullpen session pregame Sunday and said he felt “pretty good.” Payton Henry, who caught the bullpen, said Lopez keeps getting “better and better” as he tries to make a late season return after being sideline by a right rotator cuff strain since July 17.