The Marlins made it a habit all season of waiting until late in the game to get their offense rolling.
So it was only fitting they wrapped up their third season in their new ballpark Thursday by waiting until the seventh inning to rally past the last-place Philadelphia Phillies.
Helped along by a fielding error by Phillies third baseman Cody Asche, the Marlins scored four runs on five hits off reliever Jake Diekman — including the decisive two-run double down the third base line by Casey McGehee — to flip a two-run deficit into a two-run lead and eventually a 6-4 victory in front of 24,259 at Marlins Park.
“Wish I could have had more of them,” McGehee said of his team-leading 14th game-winning RBI. “But it was a good way to end the season at home at least, good way to kind of leave a good taste in your mouth.
“I think the future’s bright and we took a lot of positive steps this year. I think the expectation should be high next year. Looking forward to having this team at full strength. Who knows what changes happen around here, but [I’m] looking forward to seeing what we can do next year.”
The team’s 29th come-from-behind win of the season assured the Marlins (76-82) they will finish ahead of the last-place Phillies (72-87). The last time the Marlins didn’t finish last in the National League East before this season was in 2010.
Miami’s 42 wins at home this season are also the most since the Marlins went 43-38 in 2009 — the last time the organization had an overall winning record.
By rallying for four runs in the seventh Thursday, the Marlins made a winner of starting pitcher Tom Koehler, who pitched seven innings, struck out seven and scattered eight hits to pick up his 10th victory of the season.
“I would have liked to have gotten it a little smoother,” said Koehler, who nursed a 2-1 lead until the Phillies rallied for three runs off him in the sixth on a bloop double down the left field line by Chase Utley and then a two-out, two-run single to right by Domonic Brown.
“I gave up a couple runs in the sixth, but put up a zero in the seventh and the offense picked me up in a huge way.”
The Marlins, who entered the day leading the National League with the most runs after the seventh inning (236), started their rally with back-to-back singles by Adeiny Hechavarria and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson.
Christian Yelich then sent a hard grounder toward Asche and the ball right went between his legs and into the outfield. That made it 4-3. Donovan Solano then tied the score at 4 moments later with a single to right. McGehee followed by smacking a 2-2 pitch from Diekman down the line.
McGehee ended up getting thrown out trying to steal third base moments later. Afterward, manager Mike Redmond jokingly referred to McGehee as Rickey Henderson.
“Hey, I’ve only been caught once this year and it was close,” McGehee said with a smile on his face when he was told whom Redmond had jokingly referred him to. “[Redmond] was in shock I was thrown out because I’ve been showing so much speed this year. He wanted to come out and challenge it. I told him I was out.”
Steve Cishek pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his 39th save of the season.
“To win the final game and to have the crowd behind you, it feels good,” said Koehler, who was proud of the fact he made all 32 starts this season and only failed to get past the fifth inning twice. “Hopefully [the fans] come out again next year and get ready for a little bit of a longer season.”
An option at second
While the pickings are slim for a second baseman on the pending free agent market, the Marlins might now have a fresh alternative worthy of consideration: Hector Olivera, a 29-year-old Cuban star who recently defected.
According to sources, the Marlins, who would like to upgrade at second base, definitely have interest in Olivera, tabbed the sixth-best prospect by Baseball America to come out of Cuba. But he does come with questions.
Olivera sat out all of last year due to thrombosis in one of his biceps, but returned to play in Cuba this season, splitting time between second and DH. He hit over. 300.
Olivero still must go through the usual process of first establishing residency in a third country before becoming a free agent. But the belief is, according to Baseball America, he could be available during the upcoming offseason.
▪ Friday — Game 1: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (4-3, 2.29) at Nationals RHP Doug Fister (15-6, 2.55), 1:05 p.m. Nationals Park.
▪ Friday — Game 2: Marlins LHP Andrew Heaney (0-3, 5.33) at Nationals RHP Taylor Hill (0-0, 4.15), 7:05 p.m. Nationals Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6-3, 4.44) at Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (13-11, 3.23).