MIAMI — The kitschy Home Run Sculpture was banished to a spot outside the stadium at the dawn of the (brief) Derek Jeter era in Miami.
The tacky Clevelander nightclub beyond the left field wall – complete with dancers and a pool – that gave a generation of visiting relievers a distraction from the humdrum of bullpen life is no more.
Even the fish tanks behind home plate are gone, the final victims of the Jeter-fication of loanDepot (formerly Marlins) Park.
Two things have survived – empty seats and losses. Lots of both.
A visit from the best team and the biggest draw in baseball – the team that leads MLB in attendance at home and on the road – didn’t fill many seats. The four-game series drew a total of 56,813, almost half of them (23,543) lured by the irresistible combination of a bobblehead giveaway and a post-game concert on Saturday.
The Dodgers dimmed their star power Monday, scratching Tony Gonsolin from his start and giving Mookie Betts the night off to bask in the glow of his National League Player of the Week award. For the second time in the series, they needed extra innings but still handed the Marlins another loss, 3-2, in 10 innings.
The Dodgers took three out of four in Miami and now head to New York for a series between the NL’s two top teams, a Citi Field attraction certain to be a much tougher ticket.
Filling in for Gonsolin, right-hander Michael Grove acquitted himself well enough in his second big-league start, pitching into the fifth inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Joey Wendle in the first inning and the Marlins cashed it in for a run on Brian Anderson’s ground out.
In the fourth, Garrett Cooper drilled a triple off the right-field wall (nearly hauled in by Betts’ stand-in Joey Gallo) and scored on a two-out bloop single by Lewin Diaz.
But the Dodgers could only match that with a two-run home run by Will Smith in the third inning off Marlins starter Pablo Lopez.
The score remained tied until baseball’s extra-inning rule gave the Dodgers’ offense a boost in the 10th. Trea Turner’s infield single – the 1,000th hit of his career – moved Cody Bellinger to third and he scored the tiebreaker on a force out.
Craig Kimbrel retired the Marlins on 14 pitches in the ninth and stuck around to pitch the 10th. The Dodgers failed to turn a double play behind him and Kimbrel’s control deserted him. He walked two to load the bases with one out and Chris Martin came in to save the day, striking out Garrett Cooper and getting Jacob Stallings to pop out.
More to come on this story.