There is no better day for the Miami Marlins to end their eight-game losing streak than Jackie Robinson day on Tuesday night. It’s a day that celebrates the player that broke the color barrier for not only African Americans, but also for Latinos and even Asians.
"It's just a special day not just for African Americans or minorities but I think it's a special day for the game of baseball and society in general," Washington Nationals outfielder Denard Span said. "It just shows how far this nation has come. Everybody can come together and not only play a game but enjoy life."
"When you see it from my perspective as a young kid from Hialeah who grew up with nothing getting to play for a Major League team wearing the most remarkable number in baseball,” said Nationals ace Gio Gonzalez, “that just says it all. It brings it all together. Not just the Nationals but all of baseball."
If Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is a biracial angel, Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton is a triracial angel. The 24-year-old slugger is of Irish, African-American, and Puerto Rican descent and looked up to Puerto Rican legends Ivan Rodríguez and Roberto Clemente as his favorite baseball players.
Clemente was the Jackie Robinson for Hispanics, but he couldn’t be the Jackie Robinson for Hispanics without Jackie Robinson.
“It all goes to Jackie, Gonzalez said. All of this falls on Jackie’s lap and the guy who did it for us. And look how excited baseball is now. You got everyone getting an opportunity to play baseball.”
Stanton hit a three-run home run off Steven Strasburg in the first inning to kick off the iconic baseball holiday. That homer knocked Strasburg off his groove in a way he couldn’t recover.
"The biggest thing is that pitch from Stanton,” Strasburg said. “I've got to do a better job of executing that pitch. I can live with a couple runs here or there in the first, but that put me behind the eight ball."
Strasburg finished the game with six earned runs in four innings. He is 2-3 with an 8.61 ERA in five career starts at Marlins Park. Tom Koehler on the other hand, gave up only a single hit in seven shutout innings.
Koehler’s success came from attacking the inside corridor of the plate. It is very effective for pitchers and very hard for hitters to make proper contact. The risk that comes with throwing inside the plate is the possibility of hitting the batter. In the forth inning, Koehler nearly hit Nationals second baseman Ian Desmond and the benches instantly cleared after a shouting match.
"Guys tend to get upset when they get crowded," Koehler said. "It is our job as starters to make sure they know that is our part of the plate. We have been beat inside too many times these past couple of series and that is because we haven’t established inside late in the game. You never want to get beat inside late in the game, and that’s what’s been happening because we haven’t been throwing those pitches in." What did Desmond yell at Koehler? “He just told me to throw the ball over the plate,” Koehler said. “Which, I mean obviously, is how you get strikes.”
With 11 runs after five innings, the Marlins lead was officially bullpen proof. After seven innings of Koehler’s best work, manager Mike Redmond was confident enough to give the ball to Dan Jennings, who was last seen giving up a walk-off home run to Jimmy Rollins in a ten inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
He gave up a home run to Zach Walters, a rookie shortstop who prior to Tuesday has never hit a home run in the Major Leagues. That’s the proverbial fork in the road for Redmond: send Steve Cishek to the mound or make the lead so insurmountable that it would take an apocalyptic phenomenon to blow it.