Don Mattingly discusses the Marlins 6-5 comeback win over the Pirates Friday
Whatever it takes.
The Marlins’ performance on Friday night at PNC Park symbolized what’s become their mantra for the next six weeks as they vie to secure a playoff berth for only the third time in club history.
Three hits each from Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and Miguel Rojas — all of whom homered in the game — set up a couple of clutch plays from 32-year-old veteran Robert Andino to push the Marlins over the top in a clutch 6-5 victory over the Pirates.
Playing in his fourth game since being called up from the minors after having not played in the majors since 2013, Andino’s key outfield assist in the eighth and go-ahead single in the ninth made the difference as the Marlins (63-59) snapped a three-game losing streak.
“Anything I can do to contribute to these guys is huge,” said Andino, who went 2 for 5.
The 16-hit outburst from a lineup that included first baseman Xavier Scruggs starting his first game in a Marlins uniform and only his 27th overall kept the Marlins 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals (65-56) for the second National League wild-card berth.
The Marlins moved within a half-game of the Pirates (62-57) as well.
“Today was a game we just needed to win,” said Tom Koehler, who delivered another quality start, going six innings and allowing only two runs on a home run in the fourth by David Freese.
Koehler’s final batter was Freese, whom he retired to end the sixth and preserve a 2-2 tie on a line-drive out to Andino, who started in left field with Yelich starting in center field.
“It didn’t matter how it got done,” Koehler said. “We had a lot of chances to fold tonight, and we didn’t. It speaks to the guys that are in this clubhouse. We’re not happy with the way some things have gone, but there’s a lot of baseball left, and if we win games like this it reaffirms what we believe in.”
Andino’s one-out single in the top of the ninth inning plated Realmuto, who reached base five times, and snapped a 5-5 tie. Realmuto went 3 for 3 with a walk, hit his sixth home run in the sixth inning to tie the game at 2-2 and was hit by a pitch.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Jung Ho Kang hit a ball to the left-center field gap. Andino cut the ball off and quickly fired to second as Kang tried to stretch it into a double. The throw was in time and kept the Pirates from scoring and potentially taking the lead for a third time.
“I didn’t know he was going, I just thought I had to come up throwing,” Andino said. “On the hit, I wanted to get one in the zone and put a good swing on it. I did, and it dropped in.”
The bullpen failed to hold a lead in the seventh inning or later for the second time in the past three games and sixth time since Aug. 3.
Fernando Rodney opened the ninth by walking Jordy Mercer and giving up a single to John Jaso. After Josh Harrison moved the runners into scoring position with a groundout, the Marlins walked Starling Marte intentionally to face Andrew McCutchen with the bases loaded.
McCutchen, who was hitting .248 entering Friday and was 0 for 3 to that point in the game, sent a sharply hit grounder to Martin Prado that he quickly turned into a game-ending, 5-4-3 double play.
Rodney picked up his fifth save in five chances since moving back to his traditional closer role in the wake of A.J. Ramos’ injury.
“We thought at least we had a forceout [by walking Marte],” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You’re basically picking your poison with these guys and the hitters they have in that lineup. But just walking him really gave us a chance for two [outs].”
Yelich continued his power surge by going opposite field for a solo home run off Pirates starter Gerrit Cole that gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead in the seventh.
It was déjà vu for Yelich, who also hit his first career home run on Aug. 8, 2013, at PNC Park off Cole to roughly the same spot.
Yelich tied the game in the eighth with a single that scored Dee Gordon. That came moments after Rojas’ first home run of the season started a comeback from a 5-3 deficit.
The Pirates scored three runs in the seventh, tying the game on a throwing error by Dustin McGowan as he tried to get an out at third after giving up a single to Kang and walking Francisco Cervelli to start the inning.
Hunter Cervenka retired the next batter without a run scoring, but Harrison hit a sacrifice fly off Kyle Barraclough to give the Pirates a 4-3 lead. Barraclough then gave up an RBI double to Marte, making it 5-3.