Marlins Park hasn’t been especially kind to the team that bears its name. Since the ballpark’s opening in 2012, the Marlins have lost more games there than they have won.
By defeating the Phillies 2-0 on Tuesday, though, the Marlins guaranteed their first winning season in their home park.
And it was Henderson Alvarez who made sure of it with another dazzling start to add to his impressive 2014 résumé.
Making what was likely his next-to-last start, Alvarez improved to 12-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.70 by scattering five hits over 72/3 scoreless innings.
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The performance was somewhat reminiscent of Alvarez’s final 2013 home start when he no-hit the Tigers on closing day. He was both quick and efficient as the Phillies looked like a team in a big rush to hit South Beach, swinging early and often.
Alvarez cruised through the middle innings and appeared to have a shot at recording his fourth shutout of the season, which would have given him the major-league lead in that department.
But after recording two quick outs in the eighth, Carlos Ruiz gave him a long at-bat before drawing a walk.
With left-handed hitters Chase Utley and Ryan Howard due up next, manager Mike Redmond elected to bring in southpaw Mike Dunn. Utley singled off Dunn, who then struck out Howard to end the inning.
“I wanted to finish the game, but that at-bat with Ruiz, there were a lot of pitches,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I got my pitch count up, and Red took me out. I was thankful I could get close to finishing the game.”
Alvarez didn’t receive a lot of run support.
But, then, a Marlins lineup now missing both Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna isn’t going to be one that lends a lot of offensive help to their pitchers.
Since Stanton went down, the Marlins have scored two runs or fewer in eight of their 11 games. They have mustered only one home run over their past eight games.
And they are not likely to start cranking them out before the end of the season, either, as Stanton and Ozuna represented half of the Marlins’ home run total.
The lineup that Redmond sewed together Tuesday had, as a group, totaled all of 33 home runs this season — or four fewer than Stanton hit by himself.
The ball didn’t leave the park against Cole Hamels and the Phillies, as the Marlins had to scrape together their two runs. The first came on the third of three consecutive singles in the fourth, an Ed Lucas base hit up the middle. The second came on a Casey McGehee sacrifice fly in the fifth.
That was it.
But it was enough.
STRENGTH AT HOME
The Marlins are now 41-38 at home, meaning the worst they can end up at Marlins Park this season is 41-40.
Contrast that to the first two seasons in the ballpark when they Marlins finished with 38-43 and 36-45 the first two seasons. Winning at home is a given for any team that’s successful.
“Every good team has a little bit of a winning record on the road,” Dunn said.
“But you have to win at home. That’s where you have winning seasons, by winning at home.”
Alvarez has benefited greatly at Marlins Park, where his career record now stands at 10-7 with a 2.43 ERA.
Tuesday’s win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Marlins, and it gave Alvarez six wins over his past seven decisions.