Alex Sanabia wasn’t looking to avoid the record books, only to beat the Philadelphia Phillies. But he managed to do both by ending a personal, five-game losing streak in the Marlins’ 5-1 victory.
Sanabia would have equaled the franchise record for consecutive pitching losses with a sixth consecutive setback. Instead, he turned in one of the best outings of his major-league career by holding the Phillies in check.
Justin Ruggiano produced a pair of RBI hits as the Marlins knocked off the one team they’ve enjoyed some success against this season.
The Marlins have now won three in a row from their division rivals, and the season series is deadlocked at 4-4.
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It had been a long dry spell for Sanabia.
After notching a win on April 16, his next five outings each resulted in losses. Only Brad Hand in 2011 had ever lost six consecutive starts.
But Sanabia threw strikes (more than two-thirds of his 89 pitches were strikes) and kept his pitch count low early as the Phillies went on the attack, swinging early and often, usually to no avail.
“They came out aggressive,” manager Mike Redmond said of the Phillies. “You could tell they had a sense of urgency, and they were going to attack him.”
The Phillies just didn’t get many positive results with their approach.
Other than a Domonic Brown home run in the second, they came up empty against Sanabia and a trio of relievers: Ryan Webb, A.J. Ramos and Chad Qualls.
And the Marlins actually did a bit of scoring.
Adeiny Hechavarria turned his leadoff single and stolen base into a first-inning run on Marcell Ozuna’s RBI single.
The Marlins took the lead in the sixth on Ruggiano’s two-out RBI single off Cole Hamels, and Ruggiano drove in another run in the eighth inning with a single.
Ruggiano said hitting coach Tino Martinez encouraged the Marlins hitters in a pregame meeting to start using their heads a little more.
“Tino kind of talked to us before this game, and he was just like, you guys need to pay a little more attention to situational hitting and have a plan about what you want to do when you get into those situations,” Ruggiano said.
“And he’s right. We’ve been awful at it. We’re not denying that. But we just can’t sit here and dwell on the fact we’ve been so bad at it the first quarter of the season.”
When Ruggiano put the Marlins on top 2-1 in the sixth, Redmond said Martinez turned to the coaching staff in the dugout and said, ‘All right guys, there’s your two runs.”
Redmond said that brought some laughter.
Nick Green added two insurance runs in the eighth with his bloop single to center.
Before that, though, Qualls — not Steve Cishek — was warming up in the Marlins bullpen, ready to take over in the ninth, even in a save situation.
Redmond acknowledged afterward that Cishek, who has been the closer but struggled in the role, will now be sharing the ninth-inning responsibilities with Qualls and Mike Dunn.
“We’re going to use everybody,” Redmond said. “We’re going to use Cishek. He’s still going to close games.
“Quallsy might close some games. Dunn might close some games. They’re all going to contribute.”
Redmond said the plan was for Qualls to pitch no matter what Monday because he hadn’t pitched in five days. Redmond has blamed some of Cishek’s issues on the lack of save opportunities and not being to able to pitch consistently because of it.
“We haven’t had that many save opportunities and we need those guys to pitch,” Redmond said. “We need Cishek to go down there and log some innings.”