Where have these Marlins been hiding?
One day after plastering the Reds, they did it to them again Sunday in a runaway 8-1 victory to close out the first half of the season. Only this time it was at the expense of Reds ace Johnny Cueto, who threw a cooler-tossing, arm-throwing fit in the dugout after being lifted.
“We’d like to see that momentum carry into the second half,” manager Dan Jennings said after watching the Marlins take three out of four from Cincinnati to head into the four-day All-Star break.
The prospects sure didn’t look bright for the Marlins going into Sunday’s game. With Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Martin Prado all watching from the dugout with injuries, the Marlins’ lineup contained only two names from their Opening Day lineup: Christian Yelich and Adeiny Hechavarria.
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And with Cueto going, defeat seemed likely.
But Justin Bour drove in three runs and tagged Cueto for a pair of doubles, Marlins returnee Casey McGehee drove in a pair that put the Marlins on top, and Dan Haren stood tall under pressure to record his staff-leading seventh win.
“The last couple of games have been fun,” Haren said. “I thought (in going up against Cueto), I was going to have to give up two or one run to have a chance. I was in a jam a couple of times, but able to pitch out of them.”
Against Haren, the Reds went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Twice -- once in the fifth inning and again in the six -- the Reds stranded runners at second and third. Both times, Haren was able to work out of it without damage.
Cueto wasn’t as fortunate.
Cueto gave up three runs in the fourth, two unearned runs in the fifth following an error by Reds All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier, and blew a gasket inside the Reds dugout in the sixth when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.
The Marlins added on three more runs in the seventh.
In their two weekend games, they combined for 22 runs on 31 hits.
And so the Marlins closed out what’s been a difficult first half on a relatively high note.
“It’s been a rough first half,” said Haren, who has been the team’s best starter, in part because he’s pitched well, but also because the rotation has been decimated by injuries. “I think everyone’s happy that we took three of four. We’ve got to clear our minds and make some sort of run coming out for the second half. Time’s running out. We’ve got to make a move.”
The Marlins do take some solace from the fact some of their injured players are nearing returns. Prado should be back right after the All-Star break. The news Sunday on Gordon was mostly optimistic. The Marlins now believe their All-Star second baseman, who dislocated a thumb on Saturday, could be well enough to re-join the team in a week and avoid going on the disabled list.
But the Marlins still have a lot of ground to make up.
The Marlins are 13 games below .500 and 11 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East, a nearly insurmountable task if they are to somehow get hot.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Jennings said. “I’m proud of the way they closed out the first half, winning three out of four. A little down time now, get a chance to jump out in the second half and play the way we’re capable of.”
The Marlins will open the second half with a 10-game road trip to Philadelphia, Arizona and San Diego.