Marlins 'starting to believe' after six-run rally

June 4th, 2023

MIAMI --  is no stranger to winning.

During a seven-year stretch with the Astros to open his Major League career, he reached the World Series four times and captured the championship twice. Since signing a Minor League deal with the Marlins on March 10, Gurriel has tried to keep the positive vibes going with his new organization.

“Besides the quality that this group of guys has, I've been working on telling these guys that we're going to play baseball in October,” Gurriel said via interpreter Luis Dorante Jr. “So you’ve got to repeat that over and over, and at some point, the guys are going to believe it, and they're starting to believe that they're going to play baseball in October, and that's what I'm here for.”

Gurriel finished a homer shy of the cycle, as the Marlins rallied from four down by scoring six unanswered runs to sweep the A’s in a 7-5 victory on Sunday afternoon at loanDepot park. 

With the win, Miami (32-28) matched the third-best 60-game start in franchise history. The last time the Marlins had played at least 60 games in a season and were four-plus games over .500 was on Aug. 28, 2016 (67-63).

“I think they fight, they don't quit,” manager Skip Schumaker said. “It's still so early. We're 60 games in, so there's a lot of baseball left to play. But I think credit to them. They don't take anybody for granted. They're coming in to win, and every day is the most meaningful day in the big leagues to them, and a chance to get better and to try to win. So just a really good weekend.”

Miami is doing this without ace  resembling his 2022 National League Cy Young Award form. Alcantara, whose ERA increased to 5.07, managed to go seven innings despite a five-run outburst in the third that elicited boos from the home crowd.

Miami is doing this without outfielders Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Avisaíl García. Outfielder Jesús Sánchez and 2022 All-Star  have missed time. Starting pitchers Trevor Rogers and Johnny Cueto are on the injured list.

“I'd say right on,” general manager Kim Ng said prior to Friday’s opener when asked if she would take the club’s record despite some of the underperformance and injuries.

Cooper, who landed on the IL with an inner ear infection on May 3, returned 11 days later. But he had been scuffling at the plate, batting .151 in 14 games before sitting out three in a row due to a recurrence of dizziness and lightheaded symptoms. 

In his return to the lineup on Sunday, Cooper hit in the cleanup spot and served as the designated hitter in place of Jorge Soler, who pinch-hit in the eighth to appear in his 45th straight game. Cooper led off the second with a ground-rule double and scored on Gurriel’s RBI double. After Cooper popped out in the third to strand a pair of runners, he made up for it with his game-tying three-run homer against Paul Blackburn in the fifth.

“I think it felt different from Day 1 since Skip got here and the new coaching staff, and just the new players we brought in,” Cooper said. “I think a lot of guys have had ups and downs so far this year, and just to see the injuries, maybe people thought it would have impacted us a little bit more. Every team goes through injuries, you can't really use that as an excuse through a six-month season [because] it's a long year. Just for everyone to come up and step up -- [Jonathan Davis has] done all we can ask for to come up here and help this team win, and there's so many pieces that a lot of guys use throughout the year that have helped win a lot of games.”

The Marlins capitalized on miscues by the rebuilding A’s in the eighth to jump ahead. Joey Wendle advanced to second on a leadoff hit when center fielder Esteury Ruiz took his time throwing the ball in. Jacob Stallings singled and reached second on an errant throw by right fielder Ramón Laureano. Luis Arraez drove in the go-ahead run on a one-out infield single, and pinch-runner Nick Fortes scored on a passed ball.

“Still early,” Schumaker said. “We're 60 games in with 100-ish games left. I'm happy where we're at. I still think we have a lot of ways to get better still on all facets of the game. So I'm not comfortable. I'm never comfortable, especially in June.”