The Miami Marlins were tied for the worst road record in the majors last year, and so far they’re the sole owners of that dubious distinction in 2014.
A comeback victory may have them feeling they can change that.
A day after the Marlins completed an impressive rally, Tom Koehler looks to continue his strong start and help Miami win its first road series of the season Sunday against the New York Mets.
Miami (11-13) finished at the bottom of the NL East at 62-100 last year, partly due to a 26-55 mark on the road. The Marlins have been even worse on the road so far in 2014, dropping nine of 11.
They seemed headed for another road defeat Saturday, but a five-run sixth inning combined with a homer from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the 10th gave them a 7-6 win.
"We haven’t felt the pressure of, ‘Hey, we’re on the road, we’re out of this,’" Saltalamacchia told the team’s official website. "We haven’t felt that, which is a good thing for this team. We keep battling. We’ve been swinging the bats real well."
The Marlins, though, are hitting .223 while averaging 2.9 runs on the road compared to .293 and 5.8 at home.
Koehler (2-1, 2.13 ERA) is surely aware of that difference.
The right-hander has been backed by 18 total runs in his victories – both at home – but has received just two in his other two outings, which resulted in road defeats for Miami.
That was the case again Monday, when Koehler allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 4-2 loss at Atlanta.
"He gave us exactly what we needed," manager Mike Redmond said of Koehler, who’s limited opponents to a .198 average. "We needed a good start, and he gave it to us. … It was a great effort for him, and we weren’t able to get him the win. He deserved it."
Poor run support is precisely why Koehler is just 1-1 in seven games – four starts – against the Mets. A Bronx native who attended nearby Stony Brook, Koehler has been backed by seven total runs in those meetings, undermining his 2.35 ERA and 18 consecutive scoreless innings over his last three starts.
He held the Mets (13-11) to just three hits in eight innings of a 1-0 win at Citi FIeld on Sept. 15.
New York will counter with Dillon Gee (1-1, 3.58), who can empathize with Koehler’s lack of support. The right-hander only allowed two runs in the fourth inning before leaving after the sixth Tuesday, but he was charged with the 3-0 loss to St. Louis.
"I was happy with the way I limited the damage in that inning," Gee said of getting out of the jam by getting the final two outs with runners on second and third. "That could have gotten pretty ugly, and in the past it has. I think it was a big step for me."
Gee is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA in four career starts against the Marlins, going 1-0 in two home meetings while holding them to one run while fanning 14 batters in 13 1-3 innings.
Bobby Abreu will try to build on his two-run homer from Saturday, his first in the majors since 2012.