Shaving cream caked the floor of the visitors’ clubhouse at Comerica Park and ASAP Ferg blasted from the Bluetooth speaker in the center of the room Wednesday after yet another win for the Miami Marlins. Cheers from the locker room were audible from a few doors down as Don Mattingly broke down the Marlins’ fifth straight victory, a 6-3 win to secure a series win against the Detroit Tigers.
Miami once trailed 3-0 on Tuesday and went six innings without even putting a runner in scoring position until a rapid-fire rally played out across the last four innings, first with a solo home run in the sixth, then with a decisive three-run seventh inning.
“We were only down two or three for most of the game, so we definitely felt like we were in that,” Anderson said. “We were just able to get to that bullpen and get some mistake pitches and some timely hitting right there.”
The Marlins (15-31) opened the frame with three straight hits by outfielder Harold Ramirez, corner infielder Martin Prado and utility man Neil Walker to tie the game at 3-3. Two batters later, infielder Miguel Rojas laced another single to center to send Walker homer and give Miami the lead for good at 4-3. With a second straight series win, the Marlins extended their season-best winning streak to five straight games — their longest since 2016.
The three-run sixth inning completed a Miami rally which would have felt virtually impossible a week ago. Jose Urena started off shaky before regrouping to go six innings. The Tigers (18-28) needed only two batters to take a 1-0 lead, as middle infielder Gordon Beckham led off with a double and super utility man Niko Goodrum knocked him home with a single to center. In the second, an error by Brian Anderson cost Urena (2-6) an unearned run, then the starting pitcher coughed up back-to-back two-out hits in the third to let Detroit extend its lead to 3-0.
Although he allowed seven hits and two walks, Urena allowed only two earned runs and struck out seven to keep the Marlins within striking distance. Their reinvigorated offense took advantage of the opportunity.
“It started a little weak for us,” Urena said, “but the biggest thing is I just kept my mind right and tried to keep fighting because that was the best I could do.”
Outfielder Garrett Cooper started the comeback in the sixth and for the second straight game Miami got to celebrate a player’s first career home run. On Tuesday, Ramirez belted an opposite-field homer to extend an early lead for the Marlins. On Wednesday, Cooper’s blast into the visitors’ bullpen finally put them on the board in the top of the sixth and sent Miami into the seventh down 3-1.
Ramirez started another crucial rally Wednesday. The rookie led off with a single to left and Prado followed with another to put runners on the corners, and set up Walker to tie the game. Walker launched a double off the wall in right-center to send Ramirez and Prado home, and tie the game. After catcher Jorge Alfaro struck out, Rojas delivered the go-ahead hit.
“It grows. You win one game and it’s just a relief at home after we’d been struggling, then it grows,” Mattingly said. “It feels good and then to be able to come out on the road and get the win last night and then do it this way tonight is good.”
An inning later, Anderson provided some insurance with a two-run homer to right. On its five-game winning streak, Miami has scored at least five runs three times. The Marlins had only managed so many in a single game five times in their first 41.
The extra runs made the task easier for the Miami bullpen. Relief pitchers Austin Brice and Tayron Guerrero both danced around a runner in scoring position in their innings, and pitcher Sergio Romo pitched a low-stress 1-2-3 ninth for his eighth save of the season.
“We’re having a good time right now and our staff has been doing a great job for us all season,” Anderson said. “We’ve been in pretty much all these games this season, so just being able to put up some runs for guys, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Harold Ramirez gets extended look in center
Ramirez got his first call to MLB earlier this month primarily because of his offense. The outfielder was an accomplished hitter at every level of the minors, good enough to make up for some average-at-best defense. With the Marlins, Ramirez was supposed to get work in both corner outfield spots and perhaps provide a bit of a spark with his bat.
Miami didn’t expect to be quite so thin in center, though, and now Ramirez is getting a shot at a new position. The rookie started his second straight game in center field Wednesday after proving at least competent there in the Marlins’ series-opening win against the Tigers on Tuesday.
“It was OK. There was no ridiculous plays or anything,” Mattingly said Tuesday. “I think he’s a guy that we can play there. I don’t think he’s going to profile in center, honestly, but for us, right now, you’ll probably see him out there again.”
Early on, Ramirez’s bat is proving valuable enough for Miami to force him into the lineup. The righty hit an opposite-field home run Tuesday for the first homer of his career and followed it with an opposite-field single in his first at-bat Wednesday. The 24-year-old entered Wednesday with a .263 batting average in 20 plate appearances for the Majors’ worst offense.
Still, he was far from perfect Tuesday. Ramirez moved to left field in the fourth inning and provided a reminder as to why his defense is considered a question mark. Ramirez caught a fly ball in left field, but dropped it to the ground as he transferred the ball to his throwing hand. The play was close enough to originally be ruled an error for a dropped fly ball before Mattingly challenged to get a call in his favor.