Sixto helps Marlins advance to NLDS
Sixto Sanchez was 5 years old the last time the Marlins won a playoff series. On Friday afternoon, he helped them advance to the National League Division Series. MLB Pipeline's No. 19 overall prospect struck out six over five innings in his big league postseason debut as the Marlins completed
MLB Pipeline's No. 19 overall prospect struck out six over five innings in his big league postseason debut as the Marlins completed a two-game sweep of their Wild Card series with a 2-0 blanking of the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Sixto throwing straight 🔥🔥🔥 in his postseason debut! pic.twitter.com/uzxSbhcpTb— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) October 2, 2020
Sanchez made only seven regular-season starts after the Marlins called him up from their alternate training site on Aug. 20. But he limited the Central Division champions to four hits and a pair of walks in his first postseason outing since tossing seven scoreless innings for the Phillies in the 2016 Gulf Coast League semifinals.
"You've gotta start with Sixto, right? He sets the tone for us," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told reporters. "He throws a game that, not that you say you expect because he's a rookie, you don't know what's gonna happen and everybody talks about he'd struggled recently, but we feel good about him. He gives us a solid five, gets us back into the back end [of the bullpen], where we can use our guys the way we want to use them."
The right-hander struck out
Things got interesting in the fourth for the native of the Dominican Republic. After walking
"Sixto, man, Sixto was amazing," Joyce said. "To be able to throw the ball like that, like he did, really kept us in the game, obviously kept the guys really motivated."
The Cubs threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases as
"I went out there with a lot of hunger, looking to win the game. I was very focused," Sanchez told reporters through a translator. "I was doing a good job until that fourth inning when I got a little scrambled with the pitches. But I got back into my rhythm and was able to get those outs."
The 22-year-old threw 56 of 98 pitches for strikes, reaching triple digits with his four-seam fastball seven times.
"Six, he was aggressive today," Mattingly said. "And I think that's really why he struggled the last couple outings. He got away from using his fastball. That sets up everything else. It really sets up the change, the change doesn't set up the fastball. That fastball, you've got to get going. He's hitting locations, too, and I think that's the big thing."
Sanchez dedicated the game to his grandmother, who died earlier this year, scrawling her name on the mound before throwing his first pitch.
"Every time I go out there, I look for the victory. And every victory is for my family. I love for them to see me victorious. Especially today, it was for my grandmother. I love her very much," he said.
Sanchez exited a scoreless game, but the Marlins broke through in the seventh against
By sweeping their first playoff series since winning the 2003 World Series, the Marlins advanced to an NLDS matchup with the Braves.
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Daren Smith is an editor for MiLB.com.