Steve Cishek pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and picked up the save Wednesday afternoon for Double A Jacksonville against the Montgomery (Alabama) Biscuits, a good first step after the Marlins sent their former closer back to the minors a couple days ago to get him out of the spotlight and back on track.
Cishek, who has saved 91 games for Miami since 2012, has a lot of friends in the Marlins’ clubhouse pulling for him, including the guy who took his job.
A.J. Ramos, who took over the closer’s duties after Cishek blew his fourth save of the season on May 11, said he hasn’t had a chance to speak with Cishek since his demotion. But Ramos said he has complete faith that Cishek will be back helping the Marlins win soon.
“It’s tough to see because you know his ability; he has great talent,” Ramos said. “It seemed like for him he had to be perfect. As soon as he made one bad pitch they hit it. Whereas someone rolling good throws a ball down the middle and the hitter misses it. I feel bad, but I know he’s going to be back and better than ever.”
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Ramos said when the Marlins made him the closer Cishek congratulated him and told Ramos he had his back.
“Steve’s not the type of guy that is going to be resentful or anything like that,” Ramos said. “He’s a guy that genuinely wants to win. He even told me, ‘I don’t care if I’m setting up for you the rest of the year, I just want to win.’ That’s where we both are. Say he comes back and outpitches me — then that’s the way it goes. So we’re all here just to win.”
Ramos got a big defensive assist from Giancarlo Stanton in the ninth inning Tuesday night to help get him out of trouble and pick up his fifth save in as many chances.
Outside of a hiccup here or there, Ramos has been dominant this year. Entering Wednesday, he had allowed only one run over his past 14 appearances, and ranked third in strikeouts (34) among National League relievers, fourth with a 1.03 ERA and fifth in batting average against (.156).
Why does it feel like he is sharper than last year, when he went 7-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 68 appearances?
“My arm was killing me most of [last] year,” Ramos said. “I was inventing arm angles and things just to kind of get by, and I was able to do it. This year, I’m keeping the same arm angle. It’s a little bit easier when you know where the ball is going.”
Left fielder Christian Yelich had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Tuesday and found himself back on the bench Wednesday, a move manager Dan Jennings said was designed to get the more experienced Ichiro Suzuki into a matchup with Cubs lefty Jon Lester.
Jennings suggested Tuesday that Yelich, hitting .178 before he raised his average 44 points during his hitting streak to .222, might have gotten off to a bad start this season because he was still approaching at-bats as a leadoff hitter and needed to adjust into a more aggressive run producer. Yelich shot that theory down Wednesday. He said his struggles were simply part of an old-fashioned slump.
“You’re not going to be on fire the whole year, and you’re not going to [stink] the whole year,” he said. “I did the same thing in May 2014 [when he hit .217], but no one noticed because of the month before it [when he hit .292].”
Yelich, though, admitted he has been frustrated by the reaction from the outside and that he’s heard boos.
“You go out and people just let you know how terrible you’re doing,” he said. “You can’t really let that get to you.”
▪ First baseman Michael Morse, on the disabled list since May 26 with a right ring finger sprain, will begin taking “dry swings” soon before going on a rehab assignment.
▪ Jennings said Mat Latos will pitch in an extended spring training game Thursday in Jupiter and will throw about 60 pitches.
▪ Thursday: Off.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-3, 4.01 ERA) at Colorado Rockies RHP Eddie Butler (3-5, 4.22), 8:40 p.m., Coors Field.