MILWAUKEE — After an eight-game road trip that took them through Atlanta and Philadelphia, the Miami Marlins were looking forward to returning home for a week, beginning with a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Marlins Park.
Mother Nature, however, had other ideas.
Hurricane Irma spared Miami from the worst of her fury, instead slamming Florida’s West Coast with all her might, but the storm did enough damage to the city that team officials and Major League Baseball decided instead to shift the series with the Brewers to Milwaukee’s Miller Park starting Friday night.
“Marlins Park stood ready to host the game, but we all agreed that burdening public service resources was not the proper course of action,” Marlins team president David Samson said in a statement released Wednesday. “Following Hurricane Irma, the Miami Marlins realize that all of our employees, as well as our entire community, have other needs that must take a priority at this time.”
The move provides an advantage to the Brewers, who get three extra home games in the midst of a late-season playoff chase, but Marlins players understood the decision.
“It’s an unfortunate side effect of the storm that hit, but it’ll be good to see my family,” said Miami catcher A.J. Ellis, a Wisconsin native who has an offseason home in the Milwaukee area. “We get to play a team that’s in a pennant race, go compete against them in front of their fans and maybe spoil some of their September plans.”
The Brewers had yet to name a starter for the contest as of late Thursday night. They are trying to rebuild their rotation in the wake of a season-ending injury to Jimmy Nelson and the struggles of veteran Matt Garza.
After the Brewers’ 8-2 victory against the Pirates on Wednesday night, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell suggested that he would rely heavily on relievers in the series opener with Miami.
“It’s going to be largely a bullpen day,” Counsell said. “We haven’t quite decided on who it will be to start, but it’s going to look like some of the other games we’ve shown here.”
Milwaukee is expected to add Double-A right-hander Aaron Wilkerson to the roster, but Counsell wasn’t ready to commit to a starter.
“We’re not trying to hide anything from anybody,” Counsell said. “We’re playing the game, seeing where it leaves us, and that kind of determines the next day in some of these spots.”
Right-hander Jose Urena (13-6, 3.61 ERA) will open the series for Miami after being bumped back one day. The 26-year-old comes into the game on a high note, posting a 4-2 record and 2.70 ERA over his past eight starts. He allowed a total of two runs over his past two starts, spanning 13 1/3 innings.
Urena did not face Milwaukee when the teams met earlier this season in Miami but has a 7.36 ERA in four career appearances against the Brewers and a 9.00 ERA in two appearances at Miller Park.
The Marlins will have Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich back in the lineup. All three were given a night off Thursday night in Philadelphia, and Miami lost 10-0.
“We really haven’t been able to get those guys out of the lineup,” manager Don Mattingly said. “They’ve stayed healthy, which is obviously a positive. But I think on the negative side of that, you end up knowing that these guys are on pace for a ton of games. Maybe that’s what’s showing right now.”
The Marlins will be the home team in each of the three contests, batting in the bottom of each inning.
They have played two other series as the “home” team in other ballparks. They “hosted” the Montreal Expos at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field in 2004 because of Hurricane Ivan. In 2011, a U2 concert in Miami shifted the Marlins’ series with the Mariners to Safeco Field in Seattle, where National League rules were used for an interleague series at an American League park for the first time.
This will also mark the third time a series was shifted to Milwaukee due to weather.
In April 2007, Major League Baseball moved a Los Angeles Angels-Cleveland Indians series to Milwaukee due to a lengthy snowstorm in northeast Ohio.
A year later, Hurricane Ike forced the Houston Astros from Minute Maid Park, where they were supposed to host the Chicago Cubs. Instead, that series was moved to Milwaukee, where the Cubs took both games and got a no-hitter from Carlos Zambrano.