It wasn’t exactly a Lonnie Chisenhall performance, but Christian Yelich did enough Tuesday night to help the Marlins get past the Texas Rangers.
A night after the Indians’ third baseman tied a Cleveland record with an eye-opening nine RBI in a win at Globe Life Park, Yelich drove in a career-high four to rally the Marlins past the Rangers 8-5 on the same field.
Yelich’s two-out, two-run single in the seventh off the glove of third baseman Adrian Beltre helped the Marlins (34-30) retake the lead at 6-5, and eventually led them to their MLB record-tying 13th consecutive interleague victory.
Before Sunday, the Marlins had lost their previous 33 road games in which they trailed in the seventh inning or later. They've now won their last two road games with late rallies and clinched their first winning road trip of the season.
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They’ll play once more against the Rangers (31-34) on Wednesday night before having a day off Thursday and opening up a 10-game homestand against the Pirates Friday.
“It was a big win for us,” said Yelich, who after going hitless in four consecutive games has gone 9-for-20 over his last four games with three doubles, a homer and five RBI.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit [in the seventh] and to do something with. I had never faced [left-hander Neal Cotts] before. I didn't really know what his pitches looked like, what he was going to go to for an out pitch, things like that. So it was kind of a battle and one that I'm glad I won.”
Yelich had a career-high four hits, including a double in the sixth in which he showed plenty of hustle. After stroking a one-out line drive to center, Yelich caught Leonys Martin taking his sweet time coming up to field it and bolted for second base after rounding first. He eventually came around and scored on Casey McGehee’s 14th two-out RBI hit of the season.
“It was kind of just a reaction play,” Yelich said. “You see it and if you do it you better make it.”
The Rangers (31-34) trailed 4-1 at that point, and Marlins starter Tom Koehler was in line to end one of the oddest statistical runs in baseball for a starting pitcher.
But it all unraveled. Koehler, who struck out seven and allowed just one run on four hits over the first five innings, started his final frame by plunking Shin-Soo Choo on the back of his right foot.
He gave up a single, back-to-back walks to score a run and then a sacrifice fly before manager Mike Redmond pulled the plug.
Reliever Dan Jennings struck out pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson. But with runners on the corners and two outs, Jennings uncorked a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score. The Rangers then took the lead on an infield single by Rougned Odor and a throwing error by first baseman Garrett Jones.
“It was unfortunate with the way that I was throwing early on,” said Koehler, who after giving up two runs or less in seven of his first nine starts has seen his ERA shoot up from 2.25 on May to 3.68 over his last four starts.
“I’ve got to do a better job when innings start to snowball like that of taking a deep breath and getting back to executing quality pitches like I was early on [this season].”
Getting a fifth day off between starts has not been a good thing for Koehler throughout his career. Before Tuesday’s start, he was 0-8 with a 6.12 ERA in 14 career starts when given an extra day of rest. Surprisingly, on four days of regular rest, Koeler was 7-5 with a 2.74 ERA in 16 career starts.
But the story Tuesday was Yelich.
After the Marlins left the bases loaded in the first and started 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position before he broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run double off the wall in center field in the third inning. Yelich then scored on McGehee’s single in the sixth, drove two more in with a clutch two-out hit in the seventh off Cotts and then singled to center in the eighth.
“He’s had some great at-bats for us,” manager Mike Redmond said. “At times, he hasn't seen the results of them. But today he did.”
The Marlins are 8-0 in interleague play this season. Their 13 consecutive interleague wins dating to last season at Kansas City is tied with the Yankees (2003-2004) and Rays (2004) for the longest such streak ever.
“That's awesome I guess,” Yelich said when told of the streak. “We have to try and keep it rolling. I don't know what that is or why we've beaten so many American League teams. I guess we like playing against them.”