After hot June, Marlins' growing pains show in July
Young teams tend to experience their ups and downs during the course of a season. In the Miami Marlins' case, that aptly describes July.
The Marlins went 12-14 during the month, which followed a resurgent 15-10 June that was fueled by returns of previously injured players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi.
The success in June had followed a combined 14-41 mark through the season's first two months.
"It really has been a tale of two seasons to this point," manager Mike Redmond said Wednesday. Miami began the the season's second half with the month's low point -- being shut out for an entire three-game series (July 19-21) in Milwaukee. The Marlins then flew to Colorado, where a July 22 victory against the Rockies was overshadowed by big postgame news: top prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick were being promoted from Double-A. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna and second baseman Derek Dietrich were sent down to make room for the rookie outfielders, though Ozuna took a detour to the disabled list with a thumb injury.
"We have a couple of more young guys in the lineup and we're seeing what these guys can do," Redmond said. "There's that adjustment period, there really is. Even with a guy like LoMo who was out there before but now he's back and healthy."
The Fish won five of seven late in the month before the New York Mets visited to take two of the month's final three games. Miami pitchers ranked sixth in the National League with a 3.24 July ERA. They allowed a major-league low 11 homers. The Marlins accepted the resignation of hitting coach Tino Martinez on July 28 and replaced him with John Pierson, the team's minor-league field coordinator. SS Adeiny Hechavarria
Hechavarria hit .324 (33-for-102) -- despite ending the month 2-for-22 -- to raise his overall average to .240. That might not seem impressive, but he began July hitting .203. The Cuban defector also displayed tremendous defense and stole a team-high five bases.
Redmond said Hechavarria's patience and pitch selection were big reasons for his offensive improvement.
"Being able to separate his offense from his defense is the most impressive thing I've seen him do, maybe seen any player that I've ever played with been able to do. It's not easy," Redmond said. "To see him continue to work on his offense and continue to grind it out and have some success. We have the pleasure of watching him every day -- it's special. Defensively, this kid is special. I have not seen a better shortstop in this league than Hech."
Catcher Jeff Mathis hit .290 for the month with 9 RBIs in July.
The Marlins' lone All-Star representative went 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA. He had 40 strikeouts and 10 walks. Fernandez shared NL Player of the Week honors (July 22-28) with closer Steve Cishek. He also wowed 'em at the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field, pitching a 1-2-3 inning that included strikeouts of Boston’s Dustin Pedroia and Baltimore’s Chris Davis.
Honorable mention to Henderson Alvarez (2-1, 2.61) and reliever Chad Qualls, who wasn't score upon in 12 innings.
Cishek was 8-for-8 in save opportunities to run his successful conversion streak to a career-best 17 straight opportunities. Ed Lucas
The longtime minor leaguer has played well overall for the Fish, showing versatility and the ability to "play the game the right way." But he finished the month in a 3-for-17 (.176) funk that included 10 Ks.
Donovan Solano reclaimed the second base job when Dietrich was promoted. He's hitting .264 overall but ended July going 3-for-19.
Justin Ruggiano, reduced to a bench player following the outfield call-ups, hit .069 (4-for-58) in July. He tied Mike Jacobs’ 2007 franchise record for most consecutive at-bats (33) without a hit.
Rob Brantly, who has watched Mathis become the everyday catcher, hit .182 in nine games.
5 -- Giancarlo Stanton’s home runs for the month. 8 – Steve Cishek's saves total. 11 – MLB-low homers total allowed by Marlins pitchers in 238 2/3 innings.
12 -- Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI for the month.
27 -- Number Stanton walks, easily the most in the majors. Cincinnati's Joey Votto was next with 20. Morrison was next on the Marlins with 13.
.225 – Marlins NL-low batting average for July. In the majors, only Oakland (.222) hit lower.