Sweep-avoidance mode is pretty much our least-favorite place on earth to be, but that was exactly where the Marlins found themselves Sunday afternoon as they took on the Padres in the series finale at Land Shark Stadium.
After three straight losses and some pretty lackluster starting pitching, the Fish needed a win, and badly.
It was up to Sean West to try and reverse the trend of real bad pitching and put an elusive W on the board for the Marlins, if only to bring a little life back to the far-fetched idea that the Fish might actually catch the Phillies/Rockies/Giants and make the post season (optimism is what we do here at Hook, Line Drive, & Sinker).
Sean looked pretty good and held the Padres scoreless through three, but San Diego got on the board in a sloppy fourth inning for the Marlins defense. A single and an RBI double put the Padres up 1-0 before a throwing error from West and a passed ball by Baker allowed two unearned runs to score and give the Padres a 3-0 lead.
It seemed the Fish were in for yet another disappointing afternoon. While West was suddenly shaky, Mat Latos hadn’t allowed a hit to the Marlins through his first three innings pitched. But in the bottom of the fourth, the bats decided to make up for lost time. After two singles and a walk to load the bases, John Baker singled to drive in two runs. Then the Fish loaded them up again for Cody Ross, who singled to plate another two runs. A throwing error allowed the fifth run of the inning to score, and gave the Marlins a 5-3 lead over the Pads.
To add to the excitement of the fourth inning, Chris Coghlan’s single was his 46th of August, and set a new team record for most hits in a month by a Marlins player. It was also the first time since 1954 that a National League rookie had accomplished the feat.
After the fourth, West didn’t allow another run. His afternoon ended after six innings, seven hits, seven strikeouts and three runs (one earned), and he exited in line for the win.
The bullpen took over for West and Renyel Pinto pitched a scoreless seventh before Matt Lindstrom gave up a run to the Padres in the eighth to make it a one-run game.
The Marlins had a few chances to add on to the score when they loaded up the bases in the seventh and eighth innings, but all they managed was one run in the eighth when Coghlan worked a bases-loaded walk off of Greg Burke to give the Marlins a 6-4 lead.
Leo Nunez came in and closed it out for his 17th save of the season, and Sean West got the W for his second start in a row.
We’d nearly forgotten what a win felt like.
While salvaging the final game of the series does give us warm fuzzies deep inside, the fact that Sean West is suddenly the Marlins second-best starter does not (there we go again with the optimism).
But for now, we’ll enjoy the victory.