Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins learn the benefits of taking walks

Miami Marlins' Jeff Mathis heads down to first base after earning a walk during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday, June 10, 2016, in Phoenix. The Marlins defeated the Diamondbacks 8-6.
Miami Marlins' Jeff Mathis heads down to first base after earning a walk during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday, June 10, 2016, in Phoenix. The Marlins defeated the Diamondbacks 8-6. AP

Walks make winners.

The best teams know it to be so. The Marlins discovered it for themselves Friday.

When they erased a four-run deficit in the seventh inning to rally for a 8-6 win over the Diamondbacks, it was Justin Bour’s pinch-hit grand slam that grabbed the headlines.

But it was the four walks by Marlins hitters in the pivotal seventh that held just as much — if not more — significance in determining the final outcome.

All four ended up scoring in what turned into a seven-run inning.

The Marlins only wish the walks would occur more frequently. Although the Marlins rank third in the National League with a .270 team batting average, they’re 12th in the league in walks.

“Some of it is we’re fairly aggressive, we’re fairly young and have some guys that are first-pitch swingers,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Making matters even worse: Marlins pitchers have issued the third-most walks, and the team’s walk differential (walks received minus walks issued) of minus-72 is second-to-last in the league.

It’s no coincidence that the six teams with the best walk differentials — the teams that take more than they give — are the six teams with the best records in the NL.

The six playoff teams, in other words, if the season were to end today.

“I know our guys aren’t trying to walk people,” Mattingly said. “But that’s an area we need to improve on.”

On Friday, with the Marlins trailing 5-1 and Arizona starter Patrick Corbin seemingly in control, the inning suddenly came undone for the Diamondbacks when the walks started coming.

After Giancarlo Stanton doubled to start the inning and Corbin struck out Chris Johnson, Miguel Rojas worked the first walk of the game out of the pitcher. Then, after falling behind 0-2 in the count, Jeff Mathis worked another to load the bases for Bour.

“I thought the Mathis at-bat was huge, because that walk gets us in the right spot,” Mattingly said. “I just thought those were big at-bats as far as putting them in danger.”

The Diamondbacks brought in Tyler Clippard from the bullpen, and Bour cleared the bases with the first pinch-hit grand slam by a Marlin since 2005 when Jeremy Hermida did it in his first major-league at-bat.

Clippard walked the next two batters, and both of those ended up scoring.

Those were the only four walks by Marlins hitters all game, and they paid off.

“It just kind of puts them in a bad situation,” Mattingly said.

Said Mathis: “It does take a toll [on the pitcher] when you draw a couple of walks, go through a deep at-bat, the pitcher’s out there grinding, issues a free pass, and it kind of wears on them. I just think mentally it wears on pitchers at times, and luckily it led to a big inning for us.”

COMING UP

▪ Sunday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (3-3, 3.76) at Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Robbie Ray (2-5, 5.14), 4:10 p.m., Chase Field.

▪ Monday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.56) at San Diego Padres RHP Colin Rea (3-2, 4.74), 10:10 p.m., Petco Park.

Walk this way

NL walk differentials (through Friday):

*Chicago +82

*San Francisco +70

*New York +54

*Los Angeles +44

*Washington +41

*St. Louis +36

Milwaukee +30

Colorado +4

Pittsburgh -6

Philadelphia -28

Atlanta -33

Arizona -34

Miami -72

San Diego -94

Cincinnati -127

*Teams that would make the playoffs if season ended now.

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