The run-famished Marlins have given rookie manager Mike Redmond little reason to smile this season. After watching them pound out 16 hits in an 8-5 win over the Minnesota Twins in the finale of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader, though, Redmond could barely contain himself.
“I’m not going to lie,” he said. “That was fun.”
Fun it hasn’t been so far for the last-place Marlins so far, whose 5-16 record matches a franchise-worst start. And it’s mostly because of a punchless offense that is so anemic that back-to-back hits and two-run innings seem like outbursts.
“The numbers right now aren’t very encouraging,” Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano said. “We can’t sit here and think, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re not hitting. We’re not doing this.’ We have to right the ship.”
The numbers are abysmal. Consider:
• They are last in team batting average.
• They are last in on-base percentage.
• They are last in home runs with six, which is four fewer than the next-worst team.
Never mind that he isn’t hitting his average. The Marlins’ premier player, slugger Giancarlo Stanton, has yet to hit his first home run and didn’t drive in his first run until Sunday in Cincinnati.
What’s a manager to do? Redmond is left shaking his head after almost every game.
“We’ve been doing the same thing, day in and day out,” Redmond said. “Five hits and two runs, almost every night. Six hits and three runs, maybe. That’s not enough to win.”
While the Marlins’ pitching has been respectable to good, the offense has been nonexistent at times. By averaging just 2.6 runs per game, the Marlins are on pace to score only 416 runs all season.
To put that number in context, the last team to score fewer than 500 runs in a season was the 1971 San Diego Padres. And the fewest runs ever scored in a 162-game season — 463 by the 1968 Chicago White Sox — dwarfs what the Marlins are on pace to hit.
Then again, the season is still very young.
Nobody expects Stanton to continue failing, even though overly cautious pitchers are giving him very little to hit. But in Tuesday’s victory over the Twins, Stanton showed signs of life. In five plate appearances, he collected a pair of hits, drove in two runs, walked once, and lofted a fly ball to the warning track, where it was caught.
“I think once Stanton gets going, and it looks like he’s starting to get a little more comfortable, that’ll be big,” said Ruggiano, who has hit half of the team’s six homers.
Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez also believes the lineup, though clearly lacking power, is better than what it has shown so far.
“There are not a lot of home run hitters in that room,” Martinez said. “But there are guys who put the ball in play and hit the ball the opposite way, and drive in runs with singles and doubles. And we haven’t been doing that.”
Martinez said too many hitters are pressing.
“Everybody wants to get going,” he said. “They’re swinging at bad pitches and chasing balls out of the zone.”
Martinez expects that to change. If the Marlins ever hope to win (they haven’t yet won back-to-back games), they better, or there will be many more long nights to come.
“The offense has been our weakest link,” Ruggiano said. “We need to step it up.”
Coming up• Thursday: Marlins RHP Kevin Slowey (0-2, 1.90 ERA) vs. Chicago Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (0-3, 4.84), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Friday: Marlins LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-3, 6.27) vs. Cubs RHP Scott Feldman (0-3 4.50), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.