Mike Redmond said it was going to take a big hit, a big pitching performance or even a big defensive play to put an end to the Marlins’ eight-game losing skid.
He got it all Tuesday night as the Marlins pulverized the visiting Washington Nationals 11-2 in front of a paid crowd of 19,931 on Jackie Robinson Day.
The contributions came from everywhere.
Giancarlo Stanton matched a career high with five RBI and got it all started with a mammoth 457-foot, three-run bomb in the first inning off Stephen Strasburg. Tom Koehler gave up only one hit over seven much-needed scoreless innings for an ailing starting rotation. And left fielder Marcell Ozuna, back from a bruised foot, led a 15-hit barrage with four singles of his own.
“You saw an entire team step up,” Redmond said. “Tommy Koehler set the tone, did a great job. You have a tough lineup to plow through and I think he did a great job. It was great to see our offense strike early.
“You could feel the energy, I think. Guys just kind of fed off that throughout the lineup. We were able to put a couple big numbers on the board and give us a little bit of breathing room. It was nice. It was a long eight games there.”
About the only fight the Nationals (8-6) showed Tuesday came in the fourth inning when Ian Desmond took a fastball a little too close for comfort and then had words for Koehler. Catcher Jarred Saltalamacchia stepped between them, and then began jawing with Desmond before benches and bullpens cleared for both teams. No punches were thrown, but warnings were issued to both sides.
“Guys tend to get upset when they get crowded,” Koehler said. “It is our job as starters to make sure they know that is our part of the plate. We have been beat inside too many times these past couple of series and that is because we haven’t established inside late in the game.
“You want to have your catcher have your back. We are still building relationships. It’s early in the season. For him to step up like that and say, ‘Hey, don’t talk to our pitcher that way.’ ”
The argument only delayed the inevitable as the Marlins (6-9) put an end to their longest losing streak since they dropped nine in a row in May of last season’s 100-loss season.
The Marlins didn’t waste any time getting to Strasburg, who held them to three hits and one earned run over 6 2/3 innings in a 7-1 Nationals win last Thursday.
Christian Yelich extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games with a leadoff single to right in the first. Ozuna then smacked Strasburg’s first offering to left for a hit, setting the stage for Stanton.
He crushed a 2-1 changeup left over the heart of the plate and deposited into the grassy area behind the center-field wall, setting off the home run sculpture and a big night. Stanton, who leads baseball with 21 RBI, has hit three of the four longest home runs hit in baseball this season.
Tuesday’s blast was the longest Strasburg, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, has ever given up, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
The Marlins doubled their 3-0 lead with three more runs in the second, courtesy of an Ozuna RBI single and a Casey McGehee two-out, two-run single to left. Strasburg was finished after four innings.
That was all more than enough for Koehler, who walked five and struck out three on 112 pitches. After giving up a leadoff single to Anthony Rendon in a 28-pitch first inning, he settled in and only allowed one runner to reach scoring position after getting out of trouble in the first.
His effort was sorely needed. The Marlins (6-9) came into Tuesday’s game in a deep pitching funk. Over the eight-game skid, starters weren’t going deep enough into games. The staff ERA was an ugly 6.12, and opponents were hitting .304 with 10 homers during the slide.