It was a simple hit from Garrett Cooper, a ground ball through the left side of the infield in the third inning against New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom at Marlins Park on Friday night.
It ended up being much more than that.
As Miguel Rojas and Jon Berti trotted to home plate while Brandon Nimmo scooped up the ball Cooper had just sent into left field, a stretch of offensive futility came to an end.
The Miami Marlins had just put runs on the board for the first time in 26 innings.
Six innings later, the Marlins’ season-long seven-game losing streak came to an emphatic end as well.
Final score: Marlins 8, Mets 6. The eight runs are the fourth most the Marlins (11-31) have scored in a game this year.
“It’s good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I’m sure our offensive struggles have been well documented. Just to get some guys going and a decent feeling about their night, it’s nice for us.”
But the win didn’t come easy, with the bullpen almost giving the game away in the eighth.
With the Marlins (11-31) holding on to a five run lead, Nick Anderson immediately got into trouble. The hard-throwing righty gave up a leadoff home run to Pete Alonso to cut the lead to 8-4. Wilson Ramos (single), Dominic Smith (walk) and Todd Frazier (single) loaded the bases to chase Anderson and force the Marlins to turn to veteran Sergio Romo.
He limited the damage to two runs with an RBI single from Juan Lagarez and a sacrifice fly by Nimmo before striking out pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil to end the frame.
Romo pitched a shutout ninth inning to earn his seventh save in as many chances this season.
“It was an emotional win,” Romo said.
A needed win, too.
Heading into Friday, the Marlins hadn’t won a game since their 6-5 come-from-behind victory against the Chicago Cubs on May 6. They hadn’t scored a run since the third inning of their last game against the Mets and deGrom at Citi Field last Saturday. The shutout stretch continued through back-to-back losses to the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and Wednesday and trickled along for two more innings on Friday night before Cooper struck with his two-run single against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.
“We’ve had a few games where we didn’t score anything,” Cooper said. “Just [wanted] to help the team get going.”
The floodgates opened from there.
The Marlins (11-31) tacked on two more runs in the fourth on RBI singles from Jorge Alfaro and Miguel Rojas. They added three more in the fifth on a Brian Anderson RBI double and a towering two-run home run from Alfaro, his team-leading sixth homer that went 456 feet to center field. deGrom’s night ended after the fifth.
To recap: three innings, nine hits, seven runs — or one run shy of matching the Marlins’ offensive production during their entire seven-game losing streak — against, as Romo called him, “one of the best pitchers in the world.” It’s the Marlins’ third win of the season against a Cy Young winner, with two of the Marlins’ other 10 victories this year coming against Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer.
A Starlin Castro sacrifice fly in the seventh off reliever Paul Sewald closed scoring for the Marlins. Cooper, Alfaro and Anderson all recorded multi-hit nights.
“Contributions from all over,” Mattingly said.
Starter Trevor Richards held the Mets to three runs over 6 1/3 innings — the damage coming on home runs by Alonso in the second inning and J.D. Davis with one out in the seventh, the latter of which ended his night — to earn his first win of the season. Adam Conley worked out of a jam to close out the seventh to keep the Marlins’ five-run lead intact before the rally attempt by the Mets (20-23) fell short in the eighth.
Now, the Marlins are tasked with keeping the momentum rolling, something they haven’t been able to do yet this year. They have only won back-to-back games twice this year and have not strung together consistent, high quality performances.
But Friday gave them a reminder, whether they needed it internally or not, that they have what it takes to compete.
“Believe in yourself. You’re here for a reason. There’s a reason why part of one percent in the world gets to do this,” Romo said. “With all due respect for everybody, but, we’re pretty good, too. We wouldn’t be here if we couldn’t play. So run with that.”
Relief pitcher Riley Ferrell, who has been on the 60-day Injured List with biceps tendinitis since before the end of spring training, began a rehab assignment with the Double A Jacksonville. He threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout on Thursday.
It’s a positive and needed step in Ferrell’s progression.
The Marlins obtained Ferrell from the Houston Astros during the Rule 5 Draft in December. As such, he has to be on the Marlins’ active roster for at least 90 of 162 games or else the Marlins have to send him back to the Astros.
Ferrell, a third-round draft pick in 2015 out of TCU, has a career 3.51 ERA over 133 1/3 innings of work in the minor leagues.