After three straight years of at least 90 losses, the Miami Marlins are enjoying their best start in five seasons.
They can conclude a stellar opening week with a series sweep and sixth straight home win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
Miami (5-1) didn’t win its sixth game during a 100-loss 2013 season until April 28. But a productive offense and some solid pitching has the Marlins in position to do that and continue the club’s best start since going 11-1 in 2009.
"There’s a lot of good stuff going on right now," manager Mike Redmond said.
Ace Jose Fernandez struck out eight in 6 2-3 innings and Giancarlo Stanton drove in two more runs Saturday as the Marlins won for the third straight time, 5-0 over San Diego (1-4).
"Another win. It’s incredible," said Fernandez, who is 11-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 17 starts at Marlins Park. "To be 5-1 is pretty amazing."
Miami ranked last in the majors last season with 3.2 runs per game and a .231 average, but through six games it has scored 40 and hit .313.
Stanton, who hit an estimated 484-foot home run in Friday’s 8-2 victory, is batting .360 with 11 RBIs. He also has 11 RBIs in his last 10 games versus San Diego.
While Miami starters have pitched into the sixth inning in all but one game, its bullpen has allowed one run over 20 1-3 innings.
Nathan Eovaldi gave up two runs in the fourth inning and struck out six while lasting six frames in a 4-3 win over Colorado on Tuesday. The right-hander has allowed one run over 11 1-3 innings while going 1-0 in two starts against the Padres, who have hit .172 while being outscored 30-5 during a five-game skid at Miami.
San Diego has been almost as bad at the plate this week, scoring eight runs and batting .185 overall and .108 (4 for 37) with runners in scoring position. Chase Headley is batting .105, Jedd Gyorko .111, Will Venable .176 and Yonder Alonso .200.
"Collectively as a group, we’re not swinging the bats well," manager Bud Black said. "We are in a team-wide situation that we’re not swinging. We don’t have one guy that’s swinging the bat well. Inversely, you look at the Marlins they have guys who are swinging well. And that’s what happens. It’s cyclical during the course of a season."
Shortstop Everth Cabrera had two of the Padres’ five hits Saturday, and is 6 for 17 in the last four games.
Ian Kennedy allowed a two-run, first-inning homer to Yasiel Puig on Tuesday then yielded a run over the next four innings of a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I wasted a lot of pitches on foul balls," Kennedy told the Padres’ official website after he threw 103 pitches. "When that happens, you’ve got to find a different way to get them out."
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts against the Marlins, but has not faced them since 2012.
Stanton is 3 for 8 with a double and two home runs versus Kennedy.