Marlins 9, Blue Jays 0

Miami Marlins break six-game losing streak in blow-out of Toronto Blue Jays

 

mnavarro@miamiherald.com

Hanley Ramirez has never been one to speak up or take command of the Marlins clubhouse.

It's just not who he is comfortable being -- especially not when he's struggling at the plate and not holding his end of the bargain.

But with the Marlins reeling after their 15th loss in their last 17 games Saturday, the three-time All-Star and former batting champion decided it was time to do something uncomfortable. He called his first team meeting, where he told his teammates it was time "for everybody to just clear their heads, start over and hit the reset button."

The Marlins (34-38) responded Sunday with their most lopsided victory of the season -- a 9-0, feel-good blowout of the Toronto Blue Jays in front of 27,888 at Marlins Park. It’s a win that put an end to a six-game losing streak -- and maybe their June swoon.

"I think it was the best players meeting I've ever been involved with because of the amount of people involved with it and some of the things Hanley said to start it," said catcher John Buck, who belted a second-inning, 411-foot, three run home run that bounced off the sculpture in left-center field and gave starter Mark Buehrle an early 4-0 cushion.

"I think it resonated with quite a few guys where what it did was let's go let it all hang out at the beginning of the game... He got my juices flowing."

Buck, who had three RBI in his previous 24 games combined, wasn't the only player who was moved by Saturday's team meeting.

Greg Dobbs, homerless in his first 100 at-bats this season, hit a two-run shot in the sixth and finished with three hits as the Marlins broke out of their offensive funk and scored more than five runs for the first time since they beat the Giants and two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum 7-6 back on May 25.

Ramirez? He chipped in, too. Although he started the day 0-for-3 (dropping his average in June to .205), he stroked a two-run triple into gape in right-center in the seventh before scoring on Logan Morrison's sacrifice fly.

It was all more than enough for Mark Buehrle, who after losing each of his four prior starts prior while posting a 5.48 ERA, scattered seven hits over seven innings to pick up his first win since May 26.

"Everybody looked today like everything we said in the meeting [Saturday] got to everybody's heart," Ramirez said. "Everybody was more relaxed, smiling. It looked like it was opening day for us today."

Blue Jays starter Jesse Chavez, who gave up seven hits and six earned runs in Sunday's start, had one previous start in his career coming in -- when he lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up four walks and four runs to Milwaukee.

Despite the victory, the Marlins completed their worst season ever in interleague play, going just 5-13 (.278). Their previous worst was during an 83-win season of 2004, when they finished 5-10 (.333) against the American League.

The Marlins, who were tied with Washington for first place in the National League East on June 3rd, are now eight games back of the Nationals and a half-game up on the Phillies for last place in the division.

"When we took the field Carlos Zambrano was next to me and told me 'This is the game we're going to turn it around.' I said ,'Let's win one game first and see what happens.' And they did it today," manager Ozzie Guillen said.

"I'm not going to say this thing happened because of the players meeting. But when you have a players meeting, the next game you act that way and play that way it seems like something very positive. It's nice to see those guys having fun on the field. It's been a little while where we don't feel this way after the game. It's a very painful feeling every time you lose."

Buehrle, who said it was good to see Ramirez initiate Saturday's meeting because 'this is kind of Hanley's clubhouse," got plenty of defensive help along the way Sunday.

After Morrison started the game by racing to the wall in left-center field to take away a potential extra base from Brett Lawrie, the left fielder ended the second inning with a double play when he caught a deep fly ball Kelly Johnson and threw out Rajai Davis, who was attempting to tag up from first base, at second.

Giancarlo Stanton then picked up his fourth outfield assist in the fifth when he fielded Colby Rasmus' single to right field and threw a perfect strike home to nail Lawrie at the plate, preserving the shutout.

Jose Reyes provided some help too. After he and Cousins got tangled up in the third inning chasing a pop into short left-center (a catch Reyes made for an out), the shortstop made a stellar diving stop in the hole in the sixth to take away a hit from Yunel Escobar.

"We had some energy right from the get-go," said Reyes, who complained Saturday the Marlins' clubhouse was 'dead.'

"Hopefully, we'll continue to play the same way the next couple games."

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