MIAMI — Marlins manager Don Mattingly didn’t have a good off-day ahead of his club’s midweek series against the Nationals. It had nothing to do with Miami’s disappointing record and spot in the standings. As Mattingly explains it, something was bothering him deep in his stomach and needed to be addressed.
So Mattingly called a team meeting that lasted for 90 minutes ahead of Tuesday’s series opener. Mattingly didn’t do much talking. Nearly everyone else did.
“There’s conversations you have that are confrontational that are not easy,” Mattingly said, staying away from specifics. “But if you don’t get them out, nothing gets solved. I think I’ve found out over the years being a little older, those situations are better met head on, honestly, openly, and then you have a chance to move forward.”
Due to the length of the meeting, Miami didn’t take batting practice on the field. A rather subdued scattering of players and coaches finally appeared for on-field workouts as Mattingly spoke to reporters.
“Get it out in the open and let people process it and think about it,” Mattingly said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we come out flat as can be. It wasn’t a rah-rah meeting, I’ll give you that. But I don’t know. But I think we did have to get these things out in the open.”
Miami wound up putting together one of its most complete games of the season in a 12-2 victory over Washington at loanDepot park. It started with Edward Cabrera setting the tone, tossing six innings of one-run ball. It continued with the lineup knocking a season-high four home runs. Jazz Chisholm Jr. went deep twice and drove in a career-high six, while Nick Fortes and Jorge Soler added a homer apiece.
Cabrera, MLB Pipeline’s No. 47 overall prospect, became the first pitcher in club history to go six innings or more and allow two hits or fewer in each of his first two starts of a season. Facing the same club he did in his MLB debut last August, Cabrera was far more aggressive than he had been in 2021.
“It’s been a learning process up here, mostly through this path,” Cabrera said via an interpreter. “Most important thing has been to learn how to study players, how to prepare before the game. The way you start the batters is a way that you can stay longer in the game, so that’s one of the things I have learned mostly on this level.”
Catching Cabrera was rookie Fortes, who has been one of the 24-year-old right-hander’s battery mates since Single-A Jupiter. The pair also teamed up for Cabrera’s impressive season debut last Wednesday at Coors Field. Mattingly said that Fortes looks most comfortable behind the dish with Cabrera, and it’s likely due to that familiarity.
Fortes’ contributions have been more than just navigating Cabrera’s starts, as he continues to produce at the plate. At the time of his three-run homer in the fourth, Fortes had six taters in 52 career MLB plate appearances. He also produced an RBI single in the second.
“My approach is honestly just get something up and out over the plate and hit a hard line drive,” said Fortes, who is 7-for-15 this season. “It’s pretty simple. It’s what I’ve always done. I try not to overthink things, so I’m just pretty much looking for something up over the plate. Just try to hit a hard line drive.”
Chisholm, who was mired in a 2-for-29 slump since returning from left hamstring tightness, swung at a 3-0 four-seamer outside the strike zone from Joan Adon and sent it over the center-field wall for a grand slam. He tacked on a two-run shot in the fifth to make it a 12-0 ballgame. Chisholm joined Soler as the only Marlins with double-digit homers on the season.
Asked how it felt for the ballclub to perform the way it did after the long pregame meeting, Chisholm said he didn’t realize everybody knew about it.
“We’re good,” said Chisholm, who recorded his second career multi-homer game. “We just came out there and knew what we had to do, and that’s all I can say about that.”