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With confidence growing, some Marlins see 11-game road trip as measuring stick

The Marlins are going to be California dreaming after they wrap up their nine-game home stand against the Mets this afternoon.

It's going to be a three-city, 11-game, 11-day tour through San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- and a homecoming for four players: Giancarlo Stanton, Reed Johnson, Christian Yelich and Casey McGehee. 

Although we're still only in May, some guys are also looking the road trip as a measuring stick. The Marlins after all have the best home record in baseball at 16-5, but they are 2-10 on the road.

"It's in the middle of our 20 game [in 20 days] stretch so it's going to be tough. That's going to prove where we're at I think," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "We haven't played well on the road, but we've scored runs, kept games close, had opportunities to win. We just couldn't finish it.

"I think this road trip is going to be a big test for us to do that. We're facing the Dodgers again -- who we just got done facing. They're in their home ballpark and obviously they're going to want to repay the favor. I think we feel pretty good against those guys. I think we're going to stay strong."

Johnson, who won a division title with the Braves last season, said he feels like the team's successful homestand had been a huge confidence builder especially for the younger players in the clubhouse.

"I think the older guys kind of already know how good we are, but some of the young guys in the room it may take a few series like we've had now to kind of solidify the fact that 'Hey man we can be here for awhile, late into the summer and really be a contender,'" Johnson said. "Hopefully what we're doing now and hopefully what we can do on the road -- kind of change some things up on the road and start winning some games on the road -- that can benefit  all the young guys as far as their confidence is concerned."

Johnson said he doesn't see this road trip "as do or die," but "it could be a huge confidence builder."

"The reason we weren't winning on the road earlier was because we weren't playing all that well to begin with," Johnson said. "Now, all of a sudden we've taken this homestand to really get us on a roll and hopefully we can take it over to the West Coast. I think a lot of those parks on the West Coast are similar to ours. They play big, especially at night. We're a gap-to-gap hitting team besides one guy that can hit it out of any park at any time of night. So, all those things can play to our advantage."

> Henderson Alvarez's shutout on Tuesday -- his third over his last eight starts -- made him the youngest pitcher with three shutouts in a span of eight starts since Mark Mulder in 2001.

What's the common thread for Alvarez when he's dominant?

"When he has that downward angle he's tough to beat," Saltalamacchia said. "I think that's the consistency he needs, feeling that downward angle. You don't have to throw 95. You can throw 90, 91, just throw good pitches. His ball moves so much."

As a staff, the Marlins have five shutouts, one fewer than National League-leading St. Louis. The starting rotation ranks seventh in ERA among all major league teams (11-7, 3.25).

> Saltalamacchia said he expects Jacob Turner, roughed up by the Dodgers this past weekend in his first start since coming off the disabled list, to bounce back against the Padres Thursday night.

"He just needs some innings," Saltalamacchia said. "Right now he's behind the eight ball with those other guys because they've had a few more starts than him. They've gotten into the routine. His first start back he said he felt good. He missed his spots a couple times which is a team that it's tough to miss your spots against. From my view I thought he still looked good."


> Mets (16-16): 1. Juan Lagares CF, 2. Daniel Murphy 2B, 3. David Wright 3B, 4. Curtis Granderson RF, 5. Chris Young LF, 6. Lucas Duda 1B, 7. Anthony Recker C, 8. Ruben Tejada SS, 9. Zack Wheeler RHP.

> Marlins (18-15): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Derek Dietrich 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 3B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Tom Koehler RHP.