Marlins week in review: Keeping games in ‘slam range’ keeping Miami competitive
Miami Marlins manager made the reference a couple times this week.
“Just keep it in slam range,” Schumaker said, “and you kind of just feel like you have a chance.”
In other words, keep the game within striking distance, and Schumaker is confident the Marlins will more often than not find a way to win.
They certainly have done that lately.
Miami ended the week on a four-game winning streak, salvaging their series finale against the Atlanta Braves on the road Thursday before securing their first sweep of the season over the weekend against the Chicago Cubs to improve to 16-13 at the end of April.
All four of those wins have been by one run, and the Marlins are a perfect 10-0 in one-run games so far this season one year after going 24-40 in one-run games.
Even more, the Marlins are 14-8 in non-blowout games — defined as games in which neither team wins by five or more runs — and six of their 16 wins have come when trailing after the sixth inning.
“There’s never any quit in our guys,” starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo said. “You’ve seen that throughout the year. Maybe in years’ past you’d a see it a little more when we’re done, we’d kind of give up. This year, you see a difference in the mentality that no matter if we’re down in the late innings, we’re gonna come back and bounce back.”
The numbers back it up offensively. Miami is .279 (87 for 312) in the seventh inning or later this season, which is the third-best mark in MLB behind only the Houston Astros (.288) and Cubs (.280).
Marlins pitching, meanwhile, has held opponents to a .207 batting average and a 1.01 WHIP in late-and-close situations, defined as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck. Those are the ninth and sixth best marks in the league, respectively.
The Marlins are also eight for 10 in save opportunities, with the two blown saves coming before the ninth inning.
Game recaps from this week
▪ Monday — Braves 11, Marlins 0: Braves starter Spencer Strider was nearly unhittable.
▪ Tuesday — Braves 7, Marlins 4: Atlanta got to Bryan Hoeing in the fourth inning and never looked back.
▪ Wednesday — Braves 6, Marlins 4: Sandy Alcantara returned to the mound, but an eighth-inning meltdown by the Marlins completed the Braves’ comeback.
▪ Thursday — Marlins 5, Braves 4: After enduring a three-hour rain delay and a rough fifth inning, Miami scored five in the ninth to avoid a sweep.
▪ Friday — Marlins 3, Cubs 2: Jean Segura had a game-tying single in the seventh and a walk-off hit in the ninth.
▪ Saturday — Marlins 7, Cubs 6: Edward Cabrera had a career-high 12 strikeouts and the Marlins held on to secure the series.
▪ Sunday — Marlins 4, Cubs 3: Luis Arraez’s go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning gave Miami the lead for good to secure its first series sweep of the season.
How to get Yuli Gurriel more playing time
Veteran infielder Yuli Gurriel has posted a .306 batting average and .807 OPS in his time with the Marlins so far. However, he has only managed to get into 14 games and take 53 plate appearances as the calendar flips to May as Miami routinely turns to Garrett Cooper at first base and Jorge Soler at designated hitter.
This is prompting Schumaker to try to find other avenues to get Gurriel on the field.
Schumaker has been having Gurriel take groundballs at third base (a position he has played before) and fly balls in the outfield to potentially turn Gurriel from just an option at first base and into more of a utility player.
“I let him know to get work there just in case,” Schumaker said Saturday. “This game is weird and stuff can happen. Yuli has been able to play multiple positions and getting his bat in the lineup would really help our team.”
In case you missed it
▪ Jesus Sanchez has been leaning on Gurriel as he adjusts to being primarily a bench player.
▪ Speaking of Gurriel, he hit an inside-the-park home run against the Braves on Tuesday.
▪ Avisail Garcia made an adjustment with his stance at the plate and the Marlins are starting to see results.
▪ Can Jean Segura’s walk-off hit be a sign of things to come?
The Marlins on Saturday had a “Serie del Caribe celebration” at the ballpark ahead of loanDepot park hosting the 2024 Caribbean Series in February, which will mark the first time an MLB venue hosts the annual event.
Vlad Guerrero Sr. and Andruw Jones were on hand for a pregame ceremony, as were Confederacion de Beisbol commissioner Juan Francisco Puello, Baseball Curaçao president Jedrek Magdalena and Nicaragua Liga de Beisbol Professional ambassador Marvin Benard.
Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
Nicaragua and Curaçao will join the champions from each of the four professional baseball leagues in the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation (the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela) in the tournament.
“Baseball is beloved in Miami, in Latin America and across the globe,” Marlins president of business operations Caroline O’Connor said. “We just saw the excitement for baseball right here in Miami at the World Baseball Classic and we’re so excited to host so many of you, your family and friends. We saw that our local residents as well as the world are ready to watch this tournament. The party starts today.”
Upcoming Marlins schedule
Tuesday: Marlins vs Braves, 6:40 p.m.
Wednesday: Marlins vs Braves, 6:40 p.m.
Thursday: Marlins vs Braves, 4:20 p.m.
Friday: Marlins @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m.
Saturday: Marlins @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m.
Sunday: Marlins @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m.