No, it’s not the same adrenaline rush, the same feeling on the mound these days for Steve Cishek. Even he’s the first to admit facing hitters in the seventh or eighth innings when you’re down a couple of runs — like he was here Saturday night — isn’t the same as stepping into the cauldron of the game to try to close it down.
Just ask his successor, A.J. Ramos, after he served up a two-run walk-off homer to Jeff Francoeur that gave the last-place Phillies an 8-7 victory over the Marlins and a sweep of the weekend series.
But Cishek knows he’s still young enough to figure somewhere down the line he’ll get another chance. In the meantime, all he’s doing is putting up zeroes, baffling hitters with that sidearm delivery, trying to learn from all those mistakes he made early in the season.
“Everyone goes through some hard times,’’ said Cishek, 29, who has an 0.93 ERA since being recalled from Double A Jacksonville, where he was sent to get straightened out after blowing four saves in his first seven chances. “For me it was some mechanical issues.
“I made things too complicated. I came into spring training feeling really good. But things didn’t start out the way I planned. It was unfortunate for the team, especially early.’’
But since returning from exile, Cishek has been more like the pitcher who had 88 saves from 2012 to ’14, with 39 of them coming last year.
“Everyone I talked to said the same thing,’’ said Cishek, who is sporting a deceiving 2-6 record and 4.97 ERA for the season after starting off 1-5 with a 6.98 ERA with those four blown saves. “Don’t push the panic button. It just took a bit of an adjustment, but I had no other option; I’ve been starting to regain a bit of my edge.’’
While he still relishes another shot at closing, there’s advantages to not doing it.
“The closer’s job is probably one of the best jobs you can have,’’ admitted the native of Falmouth, Massachusetts, who had family visiting this weekend. “It’s a pure adrenaline rush.
“But in the ninth the hitter tends to be locked in, because it’s his last chance to do something. In the sixth or seventh, he’s not as locked in as you are.
“Now, there’s not nearly as much pressure. As long as there’s a zero on the board when I come out I know I’ve done well.’’
For the past month or so that’s been the case for Cishek, the Marlins’ new bullpen handyman.
▪ Mat Latos said he never felt that bad, but after taking some time off to rest his bruised toes, courtesy of a foul ball on July 5, he’s anxious to get back on the mound Tuesday night in Arizona.
“We took a professional measure, which gave me some extra time,” said Latos, who skipped his last start before the All-Star break. “My body feels great.’’
After getting rocked for 20 earned runs in five games from mid-May to late June, Latos has come back strong, allowing just three earned runs in his past two outings.
“I pitched with one leg early in the year and it wasn’t great,’’ said Latos, rumored to be on the trading block since returning from a stint on the disabled list with left knee inflammation.
Never miss a local story.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (4-5, 3.86 ERA) at Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Rubby De La Rosa (6-5, 5.06), 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Mat Latos (3-6, 4.90) at Diamondbacks RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6-5, 5.04), 9:40p.m., Chase Field.