Davis provides silver lining in Marlins' tough defeat

May 26th, 2023

DENVER -- The thing about silver linings is, you don’t want to look for them.

But the Marlins were in that unenviable position following a 7-6, walk-off defeat to the Rockies at Coors Field in the finale of a four-game series Thursday afternoon. The loss dropped them to 2-5 on their 10-game road trip, which concludes in Anaheim with three against the Angels this weekend.

It was an emotional roller coaster for Miami late in the game -- in the span of about 15 minutes. The slumping  launched a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer with the Marlins down to their final out in the ninth, and reliever Huascar Brazoban couldn’t find the strike zone in the bottom of the frame, walking the bases loaded before a perfectly placed Ezequiel Tovar grounder beat a five-man infield to win it for Colorado.

“A tough loss, no doubt,” said manager Skip Schumaker. “A lot of ups and downs. Coming back after being down by four … we felt really good about it. But unfortunately, we had a few walks there that cost us the game.”

As the wild ninth inning began, clouds gathered above Coors Field following a cloudless, sun-splashed scene when the game began -- a refreshing sight after smoke from Canadian wildfires enshrouded the region in the days prior.

But the souring weather, at least at first, was no metaphor for Miami -- Jorge Soler continued his torrid run at the plate, launching a two-run homer for his 15th of the season and his 10th in his last 20 games with one out in the ninth. It cut the Marlins’ deficit to 6-4. Then  doubled to set the stage for Cooper’s game-tying heroics.

But that’s the thing about heroic moments -- they don’t equate to destiny, as much as you may want them to. Often, you’re relegated to the silver linings.

In this case, however, there is a substantial one for the Marlins. With Jazz Chisholm Jr. sidelined due to turf toe, Miami is trying to solidify its center-field situation until he returns. Enter 31-year-old , whom the club traded for on Monday and inserted into the starting lineup Wednesday.

Prior to that, Davis had played in 171 Major League games over five seasons spent with the Blue Jays, Yankees and Brewers. He had exactly zero games in which he had three hits.

He went 3-for-4 with a home run in Wednesday night’s 10-2 victory and then reached base five times Thursday with a pair of singles, a triple and two walks. Could he be the answer in center during Chisholm’s absence?

“Six for seven with some walks [and] some big hits,” Schumaker said of Davis’ performance so far. “ … He’s been a huge addition … big hit after big hit. It’s been a huge trade so far.”

Davis said he’s a different player in 2023. After bouncing around among the aforementioned teams, he signed a Minor League deal with the Tigers, and it was at Triple-A Toledo that he refined his hitting approach and took his game preparation to another level.

“It’s mostly mental,” Davis said. “I will say I do have a better routine -- I know myself better. I know what I need to do regardless of whether I’m playing or not.”

Despite the disappointing loss, it was a day of firsts for Davis, who also hit the first triple of his career and the second triple for Miami in the game. The other came from an unlikely source: veteran first baseman Gurriel, who had a three-bagger for the second consecutive game after having five for his entire career to that point and none in the previous two seasons.

Interestingly, Gurriel spoke before the game about what it takes to be ready when not being an everyday player. Davis echoed Gurriel’s sentiment afterward.

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” Davis said.

Davis dispensed another axiom to live by if you’re not a player who’s guaranteed an everyday role.

“The main thing for me,” he said, “is to try not to get too high and try not to get too low.”

The Marlins were tested severely in that very discipline Thursday as storm clouds unleashed a steady rain upon the final pitch of a heart-breaking defeat.

But that’s the thing about clouds: there’s eventually a silver lining.