It’s true. Winning is contagious.
At least it seemed that way for the Marlins on Friday. Exactly 20 years from the day of the franchise’s inaugural game in 1993, the Marlins won their first game of 2013, a 7-5 victory over the New York Mets.
The winning didn’t stop there, either. Mike Redmond and pitcher Alex Sanabia also recorded milestone victories. For Redmond, it was his first win as a major-league manager. For Sanabia, it was his first big-league pitching win since 2010.
“Overall, it’s a big sigh of relief to get that first win out of the way,” Redmond said of the team’s first victory.
Redmond’s two sons came down from the stands to give their father a hug on the field after the victory, and the celebration continued inside his office with a champagne toast.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it sure wasn’t,” Redmond said after the Marlins, who took a 6-0 lead in the seventh, managed to barely hold on. “There are no easy wins in the big leagues. But for my first one, I’ll definitely remember that for the rest of my life.”
The Marlins were the last winless team left in the majors. No more.
Sanabia turned in six shutout innings, and the Marlins lineup finally showed some life by erupting for five runs in the seventh inning after scoring two runs total in the previous 33 innings.
Maybe the Marlins were simply due.
Maybe it something to do with the degree-of-difficulty contrasts in their opponents, going from the challenging Nationals to the less-formidable Mets.
Whatever the case, the Marlins put their series sweep to the Nationals behind them and dusted the Mets in the opening game of their series at Citi Field.
After mustering only one run in their three losses in Washington, the Marlins took their first lead of the season on Greg Dobbs’ home run in the second and broke it open with a five spot in the seventh.
Placido Polanco’s single in the seventh scored two runs, and back-to-back RBI doubles by Justin Ruggiano and Rob Brantly closed out the Marlins’ biggest inning since 2012.
About the only Marlin who didn’t contribute much Friday was Giancarlo Stanton, whose swing was looking out of kilter when he struck out in three of his first four trips to the plate. But Stanton snapped out of his funk in the ninth with a rocket-shot double over the center fielder’s head.
While the offense finally got rolling, the starting pitching for the Marlins remained strong, thanks to Sanabia. The 24-year-old right-hander hadn’t won in the majors since September 2010. And his presence on the team was the direct result of two other starters — Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi — beginning the season on the disabled list.
“It’s been a while through the ups and downs,” Sanabia said of the long stretch between wins. “But it was awesome.”
There was nothing pretty about Sanabia’s outing.
The Mets put runners aboard in every one of his six innings. Sanabia allowed six hits, walked three and struck out just one. But not a single baserunner for the Mets managed to score with the right-hander on the mound.
“I was in a few jams and had to make pitches, and the defense was awesome,” he said.
In four games, Marlins starters have combined to allow five earned runs over 22 1/3 innings for a 2.02 ERA. The Mets were unable to score until Daniel Murphy cracked a three-run homer off reliever Chad Qualls in the seventh. It was a shaky night for the bullpen.
In addition to the home run off Qualls, A.J. Ramos loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, walking two and hitting another batter. But he escaped by getting Murphy to ground to second.
Steve Cishek also gave up two runs in the ninth in what was a non-save situation for the Marlins’ closer. The Mets brought the tying run to the plate with one out. But Cishek struck out John Buck and got Justin Turner to bounce to first to end it.
“We didn’t do a great job late in the game shutting them down,” Redmond said.