Quite a turnaround: Marlins claim 62nd victory, match 2013 win total

The Miami Marlins match their 2013 win total with a 62nd victory on Sunday afternoon, showing how much the team has improved through offseason moves like Casey McGehee, Jarrod Saltlamacchia and Garrett Jones.

Marlins take down the D-backs 10-3

 
AUG 17, 4:21 pm
Giancarlo Stanton talks about the Marlins' 10-3 victory over the Diamondbacks.

MIAMI -- On Aug. 17, 2013, the Miami Marlins were 46-75 and 28 games back in the National League East. They would finish the season 62-100 for their second-worst record in franchise history.

With a 10-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon, the Marlins matched last year's win total as their remarkable turnaround continues.

Right-hander Tom Koehler, in his second full season with the ballclub, started Sunday's game and allowed two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts for his ninth win.

For just the sixth time in franchise history, Miami has reached 62 wins by Aug. 17 and the first in nine years.

''I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about that today,'' Koehler said. ''After we won to think that it took us until the last series of the year last year to get to 62 wins it just shows a great job the front office has done putting together a competitive team and a quality group of guys that are going to battle to the end.

''We knew coming into this thing that we were going to play hard. We didn't know what the results would be but we knew we would be giving everything we got every time we went on the field. We're seeing that and we're starting to see things fall in our favor after last year they didn't.''

In 2013, 11 rookies appeared in games. Miami went 24-35 in one-run games compared to a major-league best 31-18 so far this year. The offense set records for futility.

So the Marlins attacked their areas of need over the offseason, signing Casey McGehee, Jarrod Saltlamacchia and Garrett Jones. That trio went 4 for 11 with three runs, a homer and three RBI on Sunday. Despite its struggles at times, each player provides postseason experience, professional at-bats and a consistent presence to the lineup.

Manager Mike Redmond doesn't let the steady progress go unnoticed -- not after last year, his first at the helm. Sunday's achievement -- though not the end result by any means -- will be enjoyed when he leaves the ballpark and relaxes during Monday's day off.

''I think about it all the time,'' Redmond said. ''And I said it last year. Last year was a rough go and I think we knew, well not all of us, we knew it was gonna be a tough season but we knew we would be better for it this year. For the majority of guys that were here it was a battle. We appreciate where we are and where we're trying to go. We just gotta keep going out there and playing the way that we have. This is a special group of guys that fight to the end and they battle, they pick each other up, they do all the things that championship teams do.

''So to be sitting here right now with the same amount of wins we had last year for me is a pretty good feeling.''

Since dropping a season-high eight games below .500 on July 19, the Marlins are 18-10. Sunday marked he first time at .500 since July 29 after failing to achieve that benchmark two times earlier in the week.

Miami sits just three games back of the second National League wild card spot behind St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants (the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves are ahead of the Marlins in the standings). There are 38 games remaining.

''.500 is always that mark where you talk about getting to and really going forward and we've been there, we've been close, so to get back to .500 at this point at this stage of the season is huge for us,'' Redmond said. ''Definitely right where we want to be. We talked about coming into this series needing to take care of business and win this series. Tough to win a four-game series from any team whether it's at home or on the road. To win three out of four here is huge.''

Like he has done all season, Giancarlo Stanton led the charge with a three-run homer in the first and an RBI single in the third.

Stanton has already surpassed a career high with 88 RBI. His first-inning dinger gave him the major-league lead (32) and pushed him into second in franchise history with 149 total. Sunday was his 124th game of the season -- his most since 2011.

''I hate to sit here and say we expect him to do that because it wouldn't be fair to him but I know every time he swings the bat I feel like there's a chance he's going to hit a homer,'' Koehler said. ''When he's playing at the MVP-caliber level that he is he takes the team on his back.

''When your big guy's producing the way he is you've got a chance of winning a ballgame. When you see him swinging the bat well it makes everybody else not press and just go out there and do what they're capable of doing in that game and not too much.''

Early in spring training, a reporter asked Stanton what it felt like being part of losing teams over his first four seasons. As September approaches, he is playing the meaningful games he has craved.

What a difference a year makes.

''It's different to come to the field,'' Stanton said. ''It's not a morgue in here every time you walk in and just the black drapes and everything. I'm telling you, that's the way it feels when you're like that. So it's good. We're loose, we understand what's ahead. We're not kicking back at all.''

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.