Three-game sweep swings Marlins’ early season back in right direction
MIAMI — Baseball is cyclical over the course of a 162-game season.
One week, everything goes right. During the following stretch, everything goes wrong. Just as quickly as a losing skid develops, a winning streak begins.
Down by one heading into the eighth inning, the Marlins produced two runs on one hit en route to a 3-2 comeback victory over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon.
Miami has now won four of five as it heads on the road to face National League East leader Atlanta as well as the New York Mets.
The Marlins entered the eighth 1-6 this season when trailing that late in the game.
But lefty Charlie Furbush gave up a leadoff double to Christian Yelich. Marcell Ozuna flied out to left against righty Tom Wilhelmsen before Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked and Casey McGehee reached on a walk.
Garrett Jones, who broke up a no-hitter in the fifth, swung at the first pitch and grounded into a fielder’s choice. First baseman Justin Smoak threw home on the play, and Yelich was initially ruled out. Marlins manager Mike Redmond challenged the call, which was overturned when replays showed he beat the throw.
"I couldn’t see the ball, but I could hear it, and I could see where I was over the plate," Yelich said. "(The umpires on review) took a long look at it. I thought it was definitive, but maybe they thought my foot was a little raised over the plate before it touched down."
Adeiny Hechavarria knocked a sacrifice fly to right to drive in the go-ahead run.
It was the second time in three games a replay reversal set up a Miami victory. On Friday, a transfer rule allowed Reed Johnson to be safe on a fielder’s choice at third. Stanton followed with a walk-off grand slam.
Closer Steve Cishek entered in the ninth on Sunday poised for his 32nd straight save dating back to last year.
But things don’t come easily, particularly when a club recently snapped an eight-game skid.
Corey Hart doubled to start the inning and pinch-runner Brad Miller advanced to third with one out on Dustin Ackley’s groundout. Hechavarria made a highlight-reel grab on the ball up the middle, getting up to make the throw to first. After Smoak walked to put runners at the corners, Cishek struck out Nick Franklin and pinch-hitter Michael Saunders to end the game and give the Mariners their sixth straight loss.
"That’s what happens when you have a losing streak, but the only way we’re going to come out of it is if our guys step up," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "It was a great game, but we had opportunities to get some things done and we didn’t do it. Keep searching, keep working and hopefully get it right (Monday) night. Our guys are going out and playing hard, we just haven’t gotten over the hump in the last six days."
Sound familiar, Marlins fans?
Prior to Miami’s first series sweep of the season, the club had lost nine of 10. The starting rotation and bullpen didn’t resemble the stellar staff of last season.
Since Friday, Nathan Eovaldi has pitched a quality start in a no decision, Henderson Alvarez has thrown a complete game two-hitter and Kevin Slowey has tossed a solid start in place of Jacob Turner.
The much-maligned bullpen, especially lefty Mike Dunn, tossed four scoreless innings on Sunday to allow the offense to rally for the win.
"We lost a tough one against the Nationals, had a chance to win that series," Redmond said. "It’s nice to see us come back and get a sweep. It’s not easy to get a sweep in the big leagues. Today was a battle. You could tell it was going to come down to one big play."