Miami Marlins pitcher Daniel Castano wore a black cowboy hat for his postgame press conference on Friday night, and that was only one of the many surprising things that have happened to this franchise in the past week.
The Marlins, who will host the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, got off to a 1-6 start but have since won five of their past six games. That includes a 4-1 win over the Giants on Friday night.
The latest victory featured a solo homer by rookie Jazz Chisholm, who did some fancy stepping just before he crossed home plate. The Marlins also got a go-ahead three-run homer from Starling Marte in the eighth inning.
Prior to Friday, the Marlins -- predicted by many experts to finish last in the National League East -- took three out of four games from the division favorites, the Atlanta Braves, and also beat New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who has won two Cy Young awards.
"This is a fun team," Castano said. "If you are not having fun on this team, you need to play a different sport or do something different.
"It's great to be on this team right now."
The Marlins will try to have some more fun on Saturday, when they send Sandy Alcantara (0-1, 2.45 ERA) to the mound. Alcantara is 0-1 with a 1.32 ERA in three career appearances against the Giants, including two starts.
This year, Alcantara has produced three straight quality starts, but he has yet to get support from Miami's offense.
His counterpart on Saturday is right-hander Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 2.70 ERA), who has had a similar predicament in terms of a lack of run support.
Sanchez made his only career start against the Marlins in 2018 when he allowed five runs in 4.1 innings while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.
However, only three of the Marlins who started on Friday were with Miami at that time: first baseman Garrett Cooper, shortstop Miguel Rojas and third baseman Brian Anderson.
Sanchez, a 28-year-old California native, was the 34th player selected in the 2010 MLB Draft. He reached the apex of his career in 2016, going 15-2 for Toronto while winning the American League ERA title (3.00).
But Sanchez struggled in 2017 (4.25 ERA) and 2018 (4.89) due to hand, finger and blister issues. He had a 5.89 ERA in 2019 and missed all of 2020 due to shoulder surgery.
"For me, being the competitor that I am," Sanchez said, "it was hard for me to watch the game from afar."
The Giants signed Sanchez this past February, and he has pitched five innings in each of his two starts with San Francisco, allowing one run against the San Diego Padres and two runs against the Cincinnati Reds.
Unfortunately for Sanchez, San Francisco, which has won three consecutive series, entered this weekend with the second-worst offense in the majors (3.42 runs per game).
The Giants looked like they might break out on Friday, at least when Mike Yastrzemski doubled and tripled. But the rest of the team totaled just three hits.
"Our hitters are feeling some frustration now," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. "But we have a lot of confidence in our lineup long-term."
--Field Level Media
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