Marlins

Better health brings respectable results for Miami Marlins

 

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

The Marlins didn’t blossom miraculously into the 1927 New York Yankees during the Heat’s title run in the NBA playoffs. Neither did they continue wilting into the 1962 New York Mets.

They are neither historically good, nor historically bad.

But they aren’t as bad as they were, either. The Marlins team that many probably stopped following when the Heat gave South Florida reason to cheer and beat its collective chest isn’t the same abominable bunch as before.

“We’re not embarrassing ourselves,” reliever Ryan Webb said Friday, one day after the Marlins knocked off the Giants and improved to 9-8 for the month of June. “I think a lot of people looked at us in the beginning of the year and said we were kind of embarrassing ourselves the way we were playing.”

The Marlins were in the process of defeating the defending World Series champions about the same time the Heat was wrapping up its second consecutive NBA title on Thursday.

Marcell Ozuna drove in the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning, and pitcher Tom Koehler notched his first major-league victory in the 2-1 win.

The Marlins still own the worst record in the majors.

But historians can probably stop making daily comparisons to the ’62 Mets, who went 40-120. The Marlins would have to go 17-71 over their next 88 games to match the modern-day mark for futility.

“I’d be surprised if we went back to that,” Webb said of the Marlins’ early season woes.

The Marlins are better because they’re healthier.

With the recent returns of Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison and Nathan Eovaldi from the disabled list, and the ascension of Jacob Turner from the minors, the Marlins aren’t even the same team they were a few weeks ago.

They’re also holding their own in a current gauntlet of games against the team with the best record in the majors (St. Louis Cardinals), the National League West division leaders (Arizona Diamondbacks) and the defending World Series champion Giants.

Is the worst over for the Marlins?

“I hope so,” manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s fun to see excitement on the bench when we win these big games, because for so long it didn’t happen.

“We were waiting on it. I’m happy with the way we’re playing. We’re playing good teams, and we’re playing well.”

Said Webb: “I don’t think teams are starting a series against us anymore and saying, ‘We’re going to roll over them and win three.’ ”

• Ozuna became the third Marlin to drive in a run in his first major-league pinch at-bat, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Matt Treanor in 2004 and Joe Dillon in 2005 also did it.

• Colin Moran, the Marlins’ first-round draft pick, became the first Atlantic Coast Conference player to drive in at least 90 runs in a season since Buster Posey did it in 2008 for Florida State. Moran’s North Carolina Tar Heels played in an elimination game Friday night in the College World Series.

• In defeating the Giants on Thursday, the Marlins matched a franchise record for consecutive wins — eight — in an opposing ballpark. Heading into Friday’s game, the Marlins had not lost at AT&T Park since 2010. The Marlins also won eight in a row at Nationals Park in Washington in 2010.

Coming up

•  Saturday: Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (1-0, 2.16 ERA) at San Francisco Giants LHP Barry Zito (4-5, 4.67), 4:05 p.m., AT&T Park.

•  Sunday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 3.00) at Giants RHP Matt Cain (5-3, 4.55), 4:05 p.m., AT&T Park.

•  Scouting report: Zito owns a 5-1 mark with a 2.45 ERA in eight career starts against the Marlins. Zito has been a much better pitcher at home this season (4-1, 2.06) than on the road (0-4, 11.28).

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