Second baseman Dee Gordon’s 80-game suspension was announced after the Marlins’ victory on April 28 at Dodger Stadium.
The news could have derailed the team. But the Marlins have kept on winning, entering Saturday night’s game against Philadelphia winners of six of seven since Gordon’s suspension and 11 of 12 overall. A victory Saturday would give the Marlins 12 wins in 13 games for the first time in team history.
Manager Don Mattingly said veterans such as third baseman Martin Prado have helped the team stay hot since Gordon’s suspension started.
“Martin’s the man,” Mattingly said before Saturday’s game. “This is now becoming more of a young, experienced team, but it doesn’t get there without Martin being a leader. Martin’s just a guy that people respect because of the way he’s going about his business.”
Prado has certainly taken care of business over his past 10 games. He has 19 hits in his past 45 at-bats (a .422 average), raising his season average to .379, good for third in the National League.
“That happens to every team in baseball,” Prado said before Saturday’s game of Gordon’s suspension. “The better teams, they get out of the struggle faster. … It was a tough time for all of us, but we’re prepared.”
Prado, who got Saturday off for what Mattingly called “routine maintenance,” has hit particularly well since moving to the second spot in the lineup. After posting a .353 average from the fifth spot, Prado has hit .393 out of the two hole.
“I don’t think it matters to him,” Mattingly said of Prado’s place in the batting order. “The two hole doesn’t make the hitter. … The hitter makes wherever you put him good.”
Prado missed four games on the Marlins’ last road trip after flying home from the West Coast to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s first child.
“I wasn’t expecting it that day,” Prado said of becoming a father, “but it happened, and I feel so blessed. … I’m so happy with my little girl.”
Throughout the Marlins’ winning streak, the club has played in plenty of close games. Miami’s bullpen has already delivered 12 saves, the most by any team in Major League Baseball so far this season. When closer A.J. Ramos is unavailable, David Phelps provides the team with a second option for the ninth inning.
Phelps got the final three outs on Friday against the Phillies for his second save of the season.
“The biggest thing coming in in the ninth is you don’t have any help behind you,” Phelps said Saturday. “If I come in in the eighth and get into a little bit of trouble, we can bring in A.J. to get that last out.”
Mattingly praised his bullpen’s recent work before Saturday’s game.
“When you’re putting wins together, the back-end guys get used a lot,” Mattingly said. “David has been a key component of that … the days that A.J.’s not available, if we can keep David on that plan where he’s available … we’re starting to have a number of options.”
Phelps, who has alternated between starting and relieving during his big-league career, is adjusting to life as a full-time reliever.
“This is my first time ever in my career that I’ve really had a defined role,” Phelps said. “During the game, I can kind of feel out the game, start looking at the lineup, knowing when I’m going to pitch.”
Bour IS Back
First baseman Justin Bour made his first start since May 1 on Saturday night. Bour dislocated his left pinkie in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks but appeared Friday as a pinch-hitter and felt better Saturday afternoon.
“I’m not really one to take a lot of swings in the first place,” Bour said before the game. “For me, the time off hasn’t been an issue.”
“He pinch-hit [Friday night] and came back [Saturday] feeling OK,” Mattingly said of Bour. “As long as he gets through [batting practice] … we feel like he’s ready to go.”