Pair of clutch homers power Marlins to series win
Bottom of lineup provides production in fourth multi-homer game
MIAMI -- The Marlins saw what can happen with a little bit of a power surge.
Placido Polanco and Jeff Mathis each connected on two-run homers to rally the Marlins to a 5-3 win over the Twins on Wednesday afternoon.
Home runs for Miami have been scarce, especially at spacious Marlins Park. In 38 home games, the Marlins have just 15, the fewest of any club in the big leagues in their own park.
In taking both games from the Twins in the Interleague set, the Marlins made their pair of home runs count. It was just the fourth multi-homer game for Miami this year, and first since June 11 against the Brewers.
The fact that Polanco and Mathis went deep showed production from the bottom of the order from a team that has been relying heavily on Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Logan Morrison.
"We can't rely on Stanton, LoMo and Ozuna to drive in the runs every single night," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We're going to need other guys to help and contribute. But those guys, they've battled all year. It's just a matter of time. I know in those situations, I'm comfortable having any of those guys up at the plate."
Polanco's home run was his first with the Marlins, and first since June 4, 2012, when he was with the Phillies against the Dodgers.
"It was good to see Polly get a big hit," Redmond said. "I know he's been grinding a little bit, and wanting to contribute. He didn't tonight. That was a big home run. Mathis as well. He's such a good catcher. I know he can hit. He knows he can hit. It was nice to see him get that big hit as well."
The Marlins have now won three straight, and five of their last six. They've also been among the top teams in baseball in June, improving to 13-9 in the month.
The comeback win was their 15th on the season. Once again, the pitching was strong, as Miami has gone 10 straight games allowing three or fewer runs.
"We're playing good baseball," Mathis said. "We're doing the little things. We're not giving guys extra outs. Along with the pitchers pitching well and putting runs on the board, we're scoring runs. There is going to be success there."
Kevin Slowey, facing his former team, threw three scoreless innings in relief of Tom Koehler, for the win.
Mike Dunn worked a perfect eighth inning, but it wasn't easy. Chris Parmelee and Eduardo Escobar repeatedly fouled off pitches, and Dunn retired both in order on 22 pitches. It took the left-hander 27 pitches to retire the side.
"At some point, you're like, 'Come on dude, put the ball in play. Get yourself out,'" Dunn said. "But they battled me to the end. I threw a lot of fastballs to them and some good sliders, and they kept fouling them off. That's the type of team they are. They're aggressive early, but then they just go for contact when they're behind in the count."
Also in the eighth inning during the Escobar at-bat, he fouled a ball that clipped home plate umpire Tim Welke in the left leg. Play was stopped a few seconds. Escobar fouled off another on the next pitch, and this time on the follow-through, his bat struck Mathis on the glove hand. Again, play was held up a few minutes.
Mathis' left hand was checked by team trainer Sean Cunningham. As a precaution an X-ray was taken after the game, and it came back negative.
Steve Cishek worked a perfect ninth inning for his 14th save.
"They're playing good baseball right now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're getting it done. They're making plays. They just actually outplayed us in this series."
Polanco put Miami ahead to stay with his drive to left in the sixth inning. With the score tied at 3, Morrison singled, marking the end of Scott Diamond's afternoon. Ryan Pressly was brought in to face Polanco, who delivered his two-run blast with the count full.
"That's one of the most professional hitters you'll see," Gardenhire said. "We've faced him a lot of different years with a lot of different teams, but he's always been a good contact guy. He puts the bat on the ball and you saw he can drive one, too. But he's good in those situations."
The Marlins rallied from a three-run, first-inning deficit to pull even at three in the fifth inning off Diamond. Polanco singled and Mathis delivered his first home run of the season, a two-run blast estimated at 394 feet to left.
"I was happy to put some runs on the board for the team and get everything started," said Mathis, who homered for the first time since he was with Toronto last Aug. 24 at Baltimore. "He was around the zone, throwing a lot of fastballs in and out. The count was 3-2 so I figured he would be coming at me."
Slowey lifted a single to right field, the pitcher's first hit since he was with the Twins in 2008. Slowey, who opened the season in the rotation, was 0-for-18. Singles from Justin Ruggiano and Ed Lucas loaded the bases for Stanton, who tapped an RBI groundout to first.
Marlins starters entered Wednesday having allowed two or fewer runs in eight of nine games, but in the first inning, Koehler allowed three runs.
"After a rough start like that, you can either mail it in or fight as long as you can or as long as Red would allow me to go," Koehler said. "I was disappointed in myself that I wasn't able to get five innings.
"But winning changes a lot of things. Earlier in the year, we'd be down three and we'd find a way to score two and lose by one run. Right now, I think guys are playing with a lot of confidence, and I think guys are having a lot of fun. That's why you're seeing us being able to come back like this."