The Marlins lost 100 games a year in just about every way imaginable. Blowouts. Choke jobs. Screw-ups. You name it. If there was a way to lose, they did it.
But the type of losses that gnawed at them most were the close ones. The Marlins lost 55 games by either one or two runs, small margins the coaching staff and front office felt could be reversed.
On Tuesday — one night after a season opening thumping of the Rockies — they squeaked out a 4-3 win over Colorado.
“It feels great,” said Marlins closer Steve Cishek, who picked up his first save. “We lost so many games by one run, or even two runs, just to be on the other end of that feels great.”
The Marlins went 24-35 in one-run games last season.
Though they mustered only five hits, all coming in either the second and sixth innings, they made them all count, as those were the only two innings that the Marlins managed to put up runs.
Casey McGehee, who drove in four runs in Monday’s opener, produced again Tuesday with a two-out single in the sixth that gave the Marlins a 4-2 lead. His RBI was the difference as the Rockies cut the lead in the eighth to 4-3.
But Cishek, who successfully converted his final 29 save opportunities of the 2013 season, made it 30 in a row with a clean ninth inning Monday.
It was a gritty win for the Marlins, the kind they didn’t experience too often last season.
With Nathan Eovaldi on the mound for them, the Marlins came up with a pair of runs in the second off Rockies starter Brett Anderson.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in his first run as a Marlin with a run-scoring double while Adeiny Hechavarria, who had three hits on opening night, drove in another with a sacrifice fly.
Eovaldi cruised early, striking out six of the first 11 batters he faced.
But he then began to falter, walking Carlos Gonzalez with one out, giving up a RBI double to Troy Tulowitzki, and allowing Wilin Rosario tie it with a sacrifice fly.
Eovaldi made it through six innings and left with the score tied. But he earned the win when the Marlins came up with two runs in the sixth, as Giancarlo Stanton drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and McGehee came through with a single up the middle.
Carlos Marmol made his Marlins debut a relatively quiet one, pitching a scoreless seventh. But Mike Dunn gave up a pair of doubles to Michael Cuddyer and Gonzalez on his first three pitches of the eighth, and A.J. Ramos had to bail him out later in the inning when he took over with a runner on third and one out.
After walking Rosario, he got Nolan Arenado looking at a slider.
“If we got the lead, we’re going to hold it,” Ramos said. “It’s a good feeling, kind of showing everyone we’re a different team.”
There was a considerably smaller crowd for the second game of the season than there was for the first, when the Marlins announced a sellout. Attendance on Tuesday was announced at 15,904.
With the dropoff, there was much less buzz and electricity.
But the Marlins played determined. Stanton, for example, stole third base in the sixth just before McGehee drove him in with what turned out to be a huge run.
“With two outs there, they’re not really expecting him to run,” Redmond said.
“But I love the aggressiveness. I love the fact that he’s thinking about that. You can tell he’s feeling good. He had several great catches in the outfield to save some runs.”
Redmond made note of the fact Jeff Baker broke up a potential inning-ending double play in the sixth with a hard slide into second. Two runs scored in the aftermath.
“We’re playing the right way,” Redmond said of his team’s effort. “We’re playing good defense and guys are getting after it. That’s good stuff.”