Koehler seizes much-needed stopper role
MIAMI -- In the face of adversity, Marlins manager Dan Jennings was perfectly comfortable putting Saturday's game in the hands of Tom Koehler.
Confronted with the news that All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton could be out at least a month, and matched against Clayton Kershaw, Miami was staring at long odds. But Koehler grinded his way through seven innings, giving up two runs in the Marlins' 3-2 win over the Dodgers at Marlins Park.
"This team could have come in today and been very deflated after the injury to G," Jennings said. "You couldn't have had a better person to take the ball in an outing like this than Tom Koehler.
"I sit up here every time he pitches and talk about his gritty, gutty effort. You know what: He stuck his nose in there today and gave this club exactly what we needed. Tremendous effort by him. He made pitches, he battled through some situations."
Koehler did so, even with his bat. The pitcher delivered a hard liner to center in the second inning that was misjudged and dropped by Joc Pederson. The error allowed Miami's third and decisive run to score.
"It's probably the best swing I've taken since high school," Koehler said. "When you put the ball in play, sometimes weird things happen."
Koehler struck out five and didn't walk a batter. After the Miami starter was able to make it through the seventh, the bullpen slammed the door in the final two innings. Carter Capps struck out two in a clean frame in the eighth, and A.J. Ramos logged his 10th save with two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Marlins snapped their five-game losing streak and enjoyed something positive on a day it was confirmed Stanton will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hamate bone in his left hand.
Injuries are part of the game, and Miami is no stranger to losing a superstar. Jose Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16, 2014, and the Marlins managed to remain competitive for the rest of the season. Now they are moving on without Stanton.
"Obviously it's a big blow," Koehler said. "You can't replace him with anybody. At the same time, you can't try to. Similarly like when we lost Jose last year. You can't expect guys to go out there and be him. No offense to anybody in here. He's got a different skill set than a lot of guys in the league. Everyone just needs to do their job and worry about being the best version of themselves and hope that will make up for the difference."