The Marlins came dangerously close to running out of time before they could finalize a deal for Jarred Cosart last month at the trade deadline.
President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said mere seconds remained when he sent the email to the league office and got a call saying they had received it.
Had Hill had a slow internet connection, the Marlins’ playoff hopes might already be extinguished. But they are still flickering thanks in large part to Cosart, who for the fourth start in a row Saturday night pitched like a trade-deadline steal.
The 24-year-old right-hander tossed seven shutout innings and took advantage of some early offense from Donovan Solano as the Marlins beat the Braves 4-0 in front of 25,335 fans at Turner Field.
“Man, we’re glad he’s on our side,” manager Mike Redmond said.
“Some guys really need that adrenaline. They really thrive in those situations. Him going from Houston to our team — a team that’s young and headed in the right direction and fighting for a playoff spot — that energizes guys. He’s definitely one of those guys who has risen to the occasion. He wants to help us make the playoffs. Those are the kind of guys a manager wants on the ball club.”
Cosart got a big assist from the bullpen in the eighth. After giving up a pair of leadoff singles to open the frame, A.J. Ramos entered and struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit and shortstop Andrelton Simmons before Mike Dunn came on with the bases loaded and retired Freddie Freeman on one pitch.
The Marlins, 3-5 on this road trip with series losses to the Rockies and Angels, will look to salvage at least one series on their 10-day trek Sunday night when they send the struggling Nathan Eovaldi to the mound.
On Saturday, though, it was Cosart who continued to impress.
He scattered seven hits, walked one, struck out five and took advantage of three double plays to improve to 12-8 and lower his ERA to 3.80 on the season.
Since giving up four runs and losing his first start for the Marlins on Aug. 1, he has gone 3-0 and given up only two earned runs in 27 2/3 innings. He is now 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA as a Marlin.
The Marlins (66-68) have won all four of Cosart’s starts since Aug. 12. They have gone 4-8, meanwhile, in the other games during that stretch when Cosart hasn’t pitched.
“Chip on the shoulder, obviously,” Cosart said. “I didn’t have a contract. I wasn’t a high-paid guy, and it’s kind of a slap in the face when you get traded from an organization that’s one of the worst organizations in baseball over the last three years. So I just play with that extra chip on my shoulder. Coming here, it would be icing on the cake if we could somehow get in the playoffs.”
Solano’s first-inning home run to left field off Braves starter Aaron Harang helped Cosart settle in. Ironically, Solano hit his previous home run in Cosart’s first win as a Marlin against the Cardinals.
The Marlins tacked on another run with a two-out rally in the third. Christian Yelich walked, Solano singled and Giancarlo Stanton ended an 0-for-12 skid with nine strikeouts with a bouncer to center. It drove in his 98th run of the season.
Solano, who was 5 for 26 on the trip before Saturday, finished with three hits Saturday, including a clutch, two-out RBI single to center in the fifth to make it 3-0. Jarrod Saltalamacchia then scored in the sixth on Harang’s wild pitch.
That was all more than enough for Cosart, who on Friday in Atlanta gave a lot of credit to pitching coach Chuck Hernandez for helping make a couple of small changes to his delivery to get back into the strike zone more consistently.
Hernandez and Cosart knew each other from their days in Philadelphia when they spent half a season together in the Instructional League.