Marlins notes: Different players coming through as wins pile up
JUL 29, 2014 6:38p ET
And yet the Marlins rallied from six down to beat the first-place Washington Nationals 7-6 in walk-off fashion.
A common theme during the five-game winning streak -- as well as eight of the past nine -- has been contributions from various players.
On Monday, Jeff Baker collected his second walk-off hit of the season. Four players drove in a run in the club's largest comeback that late in a game since 2003. On Friday, backup catcher Jeff Mathis produced a two-run double in a 2-0 victory.
Both lefty Brad Hand and righty Jacob Turner, fighting for their spots in the rotation, have won their past two starts. Closer Steve Cishek has saved six games in the past week.
"When you get on runs, that's what happens," manager Mike Redmond said. "You get different guys to get big hits. I talked about it all year. We can't rely on Casey and Stanton to carry us every single night. They have a lot. When you start winning ballgames, every team talks about the same thing, right? You talk about getting big hits from different guys, maybe guys you don't typically expect every time. You need everybody. We will need everybody these next couple months to get where we want to go."
Garrett Jones, who tripled in Miami's first run on Monday in the seventh, has a six-game hitting streak. Last Monday in Atlanta, Jones' two-run single in the 10th gave the Marlins a 3-1 win against the National League East rival.
Jones is batting .333 over the past week. His homer Sunday was his first since June 24.
"It's going to take a team effort to win games over the long haul," Jones said. "You just can't rely on one or two guys to get the job done. That's exactly what we've been doing. Good pitching, bullpen's come in and kept us in some games we've been down and we got some timely hitting from different guys every day. A lot of guys are stepping up and picking each other up. It's definitely a team effort."
BAKER'S HOT STRETCH
Not only did Baker drive in the game-winning run Monday night, but he also extended his hitting streak. With the RBI single, Baker now has hits in 11 straight games for a new career high. During the span, he is batting .448 (13 for 29).
Prior to his RBI groundout in the eighth that cut the deficit to 6-3, he had gone 4 for 4 as a pinch-hitter for the second-longest streak in Marlins history. Baker became the first player in the majors to record a hitting streak of 10 or more games with at least four pinch-hits since Ryan Spilbourghs in 2010.
"The biggest thing is you've only got one shot," Baker said of pinch-hitting. "You're not trying to put too much pressure on yourself. Go up there, look for a pitch, have an approach. To be honest with you a lot of times it's not going to work out. Pinch-hitting's not easy, it's not all the time fun but I enjoy the challenge of it. You've got one shot to go up there and compete, lock in for one at-bat and see what happens.
"It just takes time being around the game. It takes a little bit. but when I was doing it when I was younger I didn't really have an approach or clue what I was doing. I nurtured it, took some time throughout my career and now it's something I relish in and enjoy it and go out there and compete."
Baker, who signed a two-year deal over the offseason to bolster the bench, is tied for fourth in the big leagues with nine pinch-hits. He has a .346 average over 25 at-bats. Teammate Reed Johnson is tied for first with 12 hits.
But the season didn't start off so well for the 33-year-old veteran, who opened with a .100 average between March and April until warming up to a .395 clip in May. Baker mustered just three hits in 33 at-bats (.091) in June before his current streak of 13 for 29 (.448) in July.
"The biggest thing I think is if talent's still there it's going to even out at the end of the day," Baker said. "I knew it wasn't as bad as I played the first month of the season. It was just going out there and staying true to your approach and not try to change things because you're not getting the results. It was testing but at the same time makes you a better player."
Baker's heroics wouldn't have taken place had it not been for Adeiny Hechavarria's clutch plays at short and the plate.
With the infield in and a runner at third in the eighth, Hechavarria made a backhanded stop on Danny Espinosa's grounder to keep the score 6-2. His game-tying RBI triple in the ninth came on the 11th pitch from closer Rafael Soriano.
Hechavarria fouled off five of six pitches before sending an 85 mph slider to the right-center cap, easily scoring Marcell Ozuna from second.
"When it was my turn to get up in the ninth inning with Ozuna at first, I kind of just went up there thinking it was my moment, my turn to provide for the team," Hechavarria said in Spanish. "When Ozuna got to second base, I kind of closed my stance a little bit, concentrated on working the middle of the field. I just sat through all those fouls, kept myself closed and composed at the plate and then I got the pitch and drove it to right for the triple."
Though Hechavarria has just 20 RBI on the season -- three this month since coming off the disabled list -- he is batting .288 with four doubles and a triple. The triple was his first extra-base hit since July 20.
His current seven-game hitting streak is tied for a season long. During this stretch, his average is second among NL shortstops (behind Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond) and fifth in the majors. Hechavarria's season average is 45 points higher than 2013.
"I think I've had a good amount of good at-bats throughout the season but it's fair to say that was one of the best I've had this season," Hechavarria said. "I was concentrated on what I needed to do. And as soon as I hit the ball and it got between the two outfielders, the only thing I was thinking was that I had to make it to third."
-- Outfielder Jake Marisnick was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. Utility player Ed Lucas will return as the corresponding move for Wednesday's game.
Marisnick, who was called up on Monday, struck out swinging in a pinch-hit at-bat in the 7-6 comeback victory. Lucas, meanwhile, was sent down July 20 for right-hander Anthony DeSclafani when the club needed an extra arm for a taxed bullpen.