Rain makes mess of Marlins opener as they lose to Braves 2-1
MIAMI (AP) Even before Dee Gordon went face down leaving the batter's box, the Miami Marlins looked like a flop in their season opener against the Atlanta Braves.
The sellout crowd's mood soured in the second inning when the game was halted for 16 minutes because of rain - a first at 3-year-old Marlins Park, which has a retractable roof. The resulting wet track subsequently cost the Marlins at least twice on the bases, and they lost to Atlanta 2-1.
Marlins president David Samson took the blame for leaving the roof open too long, saying the rain was unexpected.
''This will be my last game with the Marlins,'' Samson said jokingly. ''I've enjoyed my 14 seasons here.''
Two Atlanta relievers combined to escape a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the seventh, and new closer Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth for the rebuilding Braves. They traded All-Star closer Craig Kimbel in their latest deal to San Diego on Sunday.
The Marlins have hopes of ending an 11-year playoff drought following an uncharacteristic offseason spending spree, but little went right for the home team. The rain delay was an unwelcome public relations setback for unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria, whose franchise has struggled to win the favor of fans.
They booed when play was halted while the roof closed, and the rain had a lingering effect. With Miami trailing 2-1, speedy newcomer Gordon appeared to have a chance at a bunt single in the eighth inning, but he stumbled leaving the batter's box, tumbled and became an easy out.
Manager Mike Redmond blamed the damp dirt.
''When you close that roof down, it doesn't dry,'' he said. ''I'm sure that had a lot to do with it.''
Gordon, who led the majors in steals last year, was also thrown out trying to swipe second in the third inning.
''Wet track,'' Gordon said. ''Didn't slide as well as I could have. It didn't work out.''
Samson sought out Gordon in the clubhouse and apologized for the rain slowing down the Marlins.
''It won't happen again,'' Samson told him.
Braves newcomer Nick Markakis drove in both of their runs. Julio Teheran (1-0) allowed eight hits but only one run in six-plus innings.
The Marlins' Henderson Alvarez (0-1) gave up two runs in seven innings and scored their only run.
Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton went 1 for 4 and made a baserunning mistake in the fourth, when he was thrown out trying to go from first to third on a two-out single.
''It's just one game,'' Stanton said, ''but when you lose games mentally rather than by a play it's different, and that's how we lost today for sure.''
The game was Stanton's first since his beaning Sept. 11 - and since he signed a record $325 million, 13-year contract.
Trailing 2-1, the Marlins bunched three consecutive singles to load the bases starting the seventh. But Luis Avilan retired Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a 5-2-3 double play, and Jim Johnson got Adeiny Hechavarria to foul out.
''That seventh inning was unbelievable, to get out of that,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Jose Fernandez was the Marlins' opening day starter a year ago, but he was relegated to a different role Monday - lead cheerleader.
Fernandez is still recovering from Tommy John surgery and out until at least July. He threw a bullpen session before the game.
''As you can just imagine, I'd like to go pitch,'' he said before the game. ''But I can do my part, giving water to the pitcher and being loud.''
Introductions by Michael ''Let's Get Ready to Rumble'' Buffer began with Marlins players on the ballpark concourse, and one by one they walked through the stands and made their way to the field as they traded high-fives with fans.
Marlins newcomer Mat Latos, who grew up in South Florida, will make his first start for his hometown team Tuesday.
''It's a little added sense of pride,'' he said. ''I might be a little anxious, a little nervous.''
RHP Latos went 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA in an injury-shortened 2014 season with Cincinnati. LHP Alex Wood, who went 11-11 last year with a 2.78 ERA, is scheduled to start for Atlanta.