They saved their best for the end. The very end.
After scoring a paltry nine runs in the first 66 innings of their road trip, the Marlins erupted for four in the final frame.
The result was a 5-3 victory against the Colorado Rockies that served to soften what had been a brutal road trip for the Marlins’ hitters.
“Great job to salvage what looked like was going to be a really rough road trip,” said manager Mike Redmond after the Marlins took three out of four games from the Rockies after losing three straight shutouts to start the trip in Milwaukee.
Following a 93-minute rain delay that halted play in the middle of the seventh inning of a scoreless tie, the Marlins scored first on a wild pitch in the eighth before going wild in the ninth.
Back-to-back doubles by Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton made it 2-0, an RBI single by Logan Morrison added one more run and Donovan Solano belted a two-run homer off Wilton Lopez to break the game open.
Or so it seemed.
The Rockies rallied in the ninth off Kevin Slowey, scoring three runs — but only one earned due to errors by outfielders Jake Marisnick and Stanton — before Steve Cishek was summoned to shut the door for his career-high 20th save.
“All the years that I’ve come here, those are the kind of games that you play,” Redmond said. “You score two or three or four, and give up two or three. That’s what happens here.”
But, until Thursday, it hadn’t happened all series.
Runs were at a premium the first three games, and even with Thursday’s ninth-inning outburst by both teams, they still combined for the fewest runs ever scored in a four-game series played in 19 seasons at Coors: 21. The previous record low was 24 runs.
The Marlins only scored 13 total runs on the trip, but received help at the end from Solano, who returned to the starting lineup in Colorado as second baseman Derek Dietrich was being demoted to the minors. Solano went 6 for 16 in the four games with a double, a home run and three RBI.
“He was a big spark in this series,” Redmond said.
Said Solano: “I feel like I was struggling a little bit with my timing, so when you have a lot of at-bats, you can make the adjustment.”
Solano hit the first pitch he saw from Lopez into the left-field bleachers.
“I saw with the guy [Lucas] in front of me, he was throwing sinker, sinker, sinker,” Solano said of Lopez. “So I waited for that pitch. I got a good swing on it, and that’s it.”
Nathan Eovaldi gave the Marlins yet another strong outing from one of their starters, delivering six scoreless innings before the rains came. While the lineup struggled throughout the road trip, the pitching for the Marlins was outstanding.
In the seven games in two of the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballparks, the Marlins’ starters gave up only 13 runs in 42 innings, a 2.78 ERA. In the four games played at Coors, the starters gave up only five earned runs in 26 innings (1.73).
“I was pleased with the way I threw, especially bouncing back after that last start in Milwaukee,” said Eovaldi, who turned in the only clunker on the trip by a Marlins starter when he coughed up six runs in only four innings against the Brewers.
The bullpen — Slowey’s rocky ninth inning excluded — was razor sharp during the trip, allowing only three earned runs in 21 total innings.
Cishek has now converted 15 consecutive save opportunities. By recording his 20th on Thursday, he eclipsed his previous best mark of 19 saves, which he accomplished last season.
“All our pitching has been pretty good,” Cishek said.