Miguel Rojas

Marlins Park, which will host a game for the first time this season on Friday when the Marlins play the Braves, has artificial turf now instead of a grass field, and the outfield fences are closer to the plate. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

MIAMI — Marlins Park will have a new look for its 2020 season debut Friday, thanks to cozier dimensions and a switch to artificial turf.

Also, there will be a first-place team in the home dugout.

And that Marlins’ roster looks a lot different than it did when they were last in Miami, before departing for a season-opening three-game trip. That was more than three weeks ago.

“You feel like you’ve got a quick trip,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “You pack hardly nothing, and the next thing you know, a month later, you’ve got to pay rent again.”

The Marlins’ 23-day road odyssey was necessitated by a coronavirus outbreak that infected at least 18 of their players during the opening weekend in Philadelphia. Their season was suspended for a week and the schedule scrambled, including the postponement of eight games at Marlins Park.

With the revised schedule, they’ve played two “home” games on the road. Three weeks into MLB’s 60-game season, Miami will finally play in Miami on Friday against the Atlanta Braves.

“We talked going into the the season about how it was going to be different,” Mattingly said, “but I didn’t envision this. We’ve been tested early.”

And they’ve passed.

Largely because of the outbreak, the Marlins have made 58 roster moves since the season began July 24. Only 13 players on the Opening Day roster remain active. Yet Miami is 8-4 and has one-game lead over Atlanta in the NL East.

It’s heady stuff for a franchise that before this season had never been in first place after June 30. Now, thanks to a season shortened by the pandemic, the Marlins are in the thick of the playoff race with a shot at their first postseason berth since 2003.

“Every win feels like it’s worth three,” closer Brandon Kintzler said.

That was especially true in the Marlins’ most recent game before an off day Thursday. They blew an 8-0 lead Wednesday night but became the first National League team ever to allow seven homers and still win, beating the Buffalo Blue Jays 14-11.

“We’ll take them any way we can get them – 14-11 or 1-0, it doesn’t matter,” said Josh A. Smith, who pitched a scoreless 10th inning for the save.

Smith is one of 18 players added when the outbreak hit. The newcomers, mostly journeymen and second-tier prospects, have tried to bond with the holdover players in accelerated fashion, all while everyone observes social distancing and wears a masks.

“You see a lot of guys you played with and against along the way,” Smith said. “Now we’re teammates, and we just roll with it.”

Many of the reinforcements are placeholders until the infected Marlins are cleared to return, which could start to happen soon. Miami is especially thin in pitching, with three starters and eight members of the opening-day bullpen on the injured list.

“We did a nice job of surviving to this point,” Mattingly said.

CUBS: Slugger Kris Bryant was held out of the starting lineup against Milwaukee because of a sore left wrist and ring finger.


METS 8, NATIONALS 2: Tomas Nido had his first two-homer game as a professional, hitting a two-run shot in the fourth inning and a grand slam in the fifth to lead New York to a split of the four-game series against visiting Washington.

Nido, who entered with five homers and 26 RBI over 93 games in parts of four big league seasons, is just the fifth catcher in Mets history to hit at least two homers and collect at least six RBI in a game. Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Mike Piazza did it twice apiece, and Todd Hundley and Paul Lo Duca once each.

Mets left fielder Jeff McNeil was carted off after crashing into the wall while robbing Asdrubal Cabrera of an extra-base hit that would have driven in two run in the first inning. Manager Luis Rojas said afterward that X-rays and an MRI on McNeil’s left knee were negative and that the All-Star is day-to-day with a bone bruise.

ORIOLES 11, PHILLIES 4: Pedro Severino and Rio Ruiz hit homers to back Thomas Eshelman, and Baltimore completed a three-game sweep at Philadelphia.

Eshelman (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings to earn his second career win. The right-hander was Philadelphia’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2017 but was traded to Baltimore last year for international slot money.

Phillies starter Jake Arrieta (1-2) gave up four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

J.T. Realmuto hit a pair of two-run homers for the Phillies, who fell to 5-9 under first-year manager Joe Girardi.

PIRATES 9, REDS 6: Adam Frazier hit the first of three homers off Anthony DeSclafani, who hasn’t beaten Pittsburgh in his last seven tries, and the Pirates returned from a three-day layoff with a flourish, winning at Cincinnati.

CUBS 4, BREWERS 2: Yu Darvish took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his third straight dominant start, and Chicago won at home.

Darvish allowed just one hit – Justin Smoak’s towering solo homer to right field with one out in the seventh inning on his 98th pitch – before being relieved by Casey Sadler to start the eighth. The 33-year-old right-hander from Japan struck out 11 and threw 104 pitches.

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