ATLANTA -- Less than 24 hours after their most heartbreaking loss of the season, the Marlins seemed destined for a fifth straight defeat with just three outs to work with against the Braves on Thursday afternoon at Truist Park.
After all, everything was stacked against them:
• A rain delay that lasted three hours and one minute on getaway day
• A 1 percent win probability
• An 0-12 record when trailing after eight innings this season
• No wins in nine innings in franchise history entering the ninth facing at least a four-plus run deficit
• An 18-40 (.310) record since Truist Park opened in 2017
“I've been a part of a lot of losses here in the ninth and the eighth [innings], and to be on the other side of it is something special,” said Cooper, who recorded his seventh career go-ahead plate appearance in the ninth inning or later, and his first since May 22, 2021. “We haven't played too well here in the time I've been here. So just to come back, down 4-0, shows what this offense can do. What did we string five, six hits in that last inning? Especially a guy like [A.J.] Minter, who has been pretty locked [in] his career. Just saw a fight. Everybody was putting the ball in play, and good things happen when you put the ball in play.”
But pinch-hitter Avisaíl García and Jazz Chisholm Jr. knocked consecutive RBI singles to chase Minter and bring in Jesse Chavez, who had never given up a hit to Cooper in three previous matchups. Mired in a 6-for-39 (.154) stretch over his past 10 games, Cooper disagreed with a called strike two but regrouped to send an elevated 2-2 sinker to the right-center gap.
“I think when you go through stretches of hot and cold -- I've been pretty streaky throughout my career, where you get really hot and that hotness continues -- and you get cold and you start trying to change things,” said Cooper, who was batting .370 before his mini-slump. “[Hitting coach Brant Brown] and the hitting coaches just try to instill the ‘Keep-your-swing-going [mentality],’ because it's a long season, and don't try to tinker [with] everything you do every single game.
“Just trust what has gotten me to this point. Just to come out here and put a big swing on after a rough week or 10 days, especially starting the season hot, is always tough. Just to come out here and have a big hit is good going home.”
That timely hitting set up right-hander Dylan Floro's redemption arc. Floro, who hadn’t surrendered a run in his first nine appearances (10 1/3 frames), gave up four in the decisive eighth inning of Wednesday night’s 6-4 loss.
As the Marlins’ rally extended on Thursday, Floro began to get ready. Left-hander A.J. Puk, who has been getting the majority of the closing duties, thought he was going back out for the ninth after a scoreless eighth. But manager Skip Schumaker elected to go with Floro.
“It always feels good to get back in there and just get after it,” said Floro, who retired the Braves in order in the ninth on 12 pitches. “That's the game of baseball there. You're going to have good days, you're going to have bad days. Just get back in there and hopefully get a chance for the team to win.”
The unlikeliest of rallies continued a season-long trend for the Marlins. Entering the series finale, they were batting .276 in the seventh inning or later -- the third-best mark in the Majors -- with 41.3 percent of their runs coming in the final three frames. And they rallied on Thursday without a homer; half of their run production had come via the long ball.
“We talked about that a lot, that resiliency,” said Schumaker, who could hear the players cheering in the clubhouse during his postgame interview. “They've never really given up, and we've had some comeback wins already this year early on, which just kind of shows you what kind of team we have. We've lost some heartbreakers, but we've won some good ones late, and it's a big deal in that clubhouse when you can steal some wins. Just big hit after big hit late. Just an exciting win.”