Who are these guys?
“Definitely different than what we’re used to,” said Giancarlo Stanton after the Marlins rallied for an 8-5 victory Thursday over the Colorado Rockies to snatch the series, three games to one.
The Marlins sure aren’t looking like last year’s bumbling losers.
The most lifeless offense in the majors a season ago has already scored more runs — 27 — than it did during any four-game stretch in 2013. At 3-1, they’re also off to their best start since 2009 when they broke out to a 4-0 beginning.
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Stanton drove in the go-ahead run and newcomer Casey McGehee, back in the majors after spending last season in Japan, continued to sizzle, driving in three more runs to increase his league-leading RBI total to eight.
“When you come into a new organization, there’s nothing better that first week than to get some big hits and contribute,” manager Mike Redmond said of the 31-year-old McGehee, who whom the Marlins acquired on the cheap ($1.1 million).
McGehee didn’t just do it with his bat. He also did it with his hustle, breaking up a double play in the first inning, which enabled a runner to score, before scoring from second on Marcell Ozuna’s infield hit in the third.
“I think that’s the kind of style of play we’re wanting to play,” McGehee said. “It’s aggressive, and we’re trying to put pressure on them — kind of the old football mentality of play to the whistle.”
It looked for the longest time on Thursday that the Marlins would end the series on a down note, a series that started off with a pair of wins. After dropping a 5-4 decision Wednesday night, it almost seemed like the Marlins were sleepwalking when they took the field for the matinee.
Starting pitcher Jacob Turner was nowhere near sharp, relinquishing five runs on eight hits and three walks in only six innings. Catcher Jeff Mathis threw the ball into the outfield on a steal attempt. And Stanton lost a line drive in the lights — yes, even in day games, they have them turned on at Marlins Park — while pulling up short on a fly ball that dropped in only a few feet away for a hit.
The Marlins trailed 5-2 after the fifth, 5-3 after the sixth, and 5-4 after the seventh, as they slowly chipped away at the Colorado lead. But they were stranding runners right and left, as well.
They had gone 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position heading into the eighth. And they came up empty in both the sixth and seventh innings after getting a runner to third with less than two outs.
But it all turned around in the eighth.
With Matt Belisle on the mound for the Rockies, hot-hitting Adeiny Hechavarria opened the inning with a single. Hechavarria, who went 3 for 4, has his average up to .500. Mathis bunted Hechavarria over to second. After Redmond used Jarrod Saltalamacchia as a pinch-hitter, he told McGehee to be ready, that in the event of an injury to Mathis, he would be the Marlins’ emergency catcher.
“He was fired up about that,” Redmond said. “Maybe that lifted him up for that at-bat.”
Which would come a bit later. First things first.
Saltalamacchia struck out, which brought up Christian Yelich, who is one of the few Marlins having trouble getting on track offensively. But Yelich battled and flared a single into left, which scored Hechavarria with the tying run.
Following a Jeff Baker walk, Stanton ripped a single into center that scored Yelich with the go-ahead run. And McGhee, who had cut the Rockies’ lead to one run in the seventh with a line-hugging triple to right, singled up the middle to score two more runs.
Steve Cishek worked the ninth to record his 31st consecutive save.
The Marlins even came out on top on the day’s two video reviews, one on a challenge by the Rockies and the other at the suggestion of the umpires.
But McGehee said it’s too early for anyone to start planning a celebration.
“Winning the first series of the year is always a good thing,” he said. “But, like I said a few days ago, it’s a good start and that’s all it is. Enjoy it the rest of the day today. But when we get here tomorrow, it’s a fresh day.”