MLB: Marlins’ Sixto Sanchez looks to subdue D-backs

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Highly touted rookie right-hander Sixto Sanchez will get his chance to join the ever-expanding shutout club for the Miami Marlins on Saturday night when he starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first time in his career.

Miami pitchers have combined to throw five shutouts over the team’s last nine games, including a four-hit gem by left-hander Braxton Garrett in Friday night’s series-opening 3-0 win over Arizona.

“I think they feed off each other,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “It’s a team game, but they all compete against each other. They’re all friends, they watch each other’s bullpens. (But) there’s always competition, friendly competition.”

Now it’s Sanchez’s turn to try and join the club.

Sanchez (0-2, 6.41 ERA) was rated the team’s top overall prospect by MLB.com in both 2018 and 2021, but he has missed the past three seasons with shoulder issues. He will make his sixth start of the season on Saturday in the game in Phoenix and has shown flashes at times of being a can’t-miss prospect despite being plagued by slow starts.

Sanchez comes in off a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday in a game that saw him yield four runs in the first inning, sending his first-inning ERA to 10.50 for his career. But he rebounded to blank the Mets over the next three innings before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Schumaker said Sanchez’s first-inning struggles are “unacceptable.”

“If he wants to start at this level, he’s going to have to be better in the first inning. It’s just what it is,” Schumaker said.

Sanchez routinely settles down after his sluggish starts, however.

“I’ve seen what everybody’s seeing,” catcher Christian Bethancourt said. “Gets in trouble in the first inning, and then he pitches like Pedro Martinez.”

If Sanchez can take any solace, it’s in the fact that Garrett carried a 10.24 ERA into his start on Friday night before holding the Diamondbacks to four singles. Garrett needed just 95 pitches (71 for strikes) in outdueling Zac Gallen en route to his first career shutout.

“It’s first-pitch strikes. It’s strike percentage as well,” Schumaker said. “It felt like he was 0-1 or 0-2 every single at-bat.”

Arizona had come in off its first series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium since April 13-15, 2018, highlighted by a 6-0 victory in Wednesday night’s rubber match.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo was hoping the series win over the Dodgers would be the springboard to his team overcoming its slow start. Instead, the defending National League champs fell three games below .500, and second baseman Ketel Marte saw his 21-game hitting streak end.

Blame it on the day off before Friday’s contest. Arizona is now 1-6 this season following a day off.

“We haven’t really been sparkling after off days, and we have to figure that out,” Lovullo said. “We have more off days this year.”

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 4.98 ERA) will try to get Arizona back on the winning track. Montgomery is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins.

Montgomery gave up four runs on five hits over six innings in his most recent start, a 6-4 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. He walked two and struck out three.

–Field Level Media

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