HOUSTON -- When it comes to overturning calls using baseball's new replay rules, no team is doing it better than the Marlins. The Marlins have been successful on 17 of their 21 challenges this season, giving them an 80 percent success rate that is tops in the majors.
[The folks at baseballsavant.com have all it broken down here.]
So far this season, 657 calls have been challenged in the majors, with 345 -- or 52.5 percent -- getting overturned. The Marlins, clearly, are doing much better than the average. Their 17 overturns are also tied for first with the Royals and Giants. By contrast, the Cardinals have had only two correct challenges (out of 13 attempts) while the Reds are just three for nine.
If one assumes that the number of close plays from one team to the next equals out over the course of a 162-game season, it's clear some teams are doing a much better job of it than others. In the name of Don Denkinger, how in the world have the Cardinals only managed to get two calls overturned this season when the league average is 11.5?
"I think it's become a big weapon," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the new review system.
In Pat Shine, the Marlins have someone who is focused on the job. And it's not an easy one. During games, Shine sits inside the clubhouse carefully scrutinizing not just every single play, but anywhere from 12 to 15 camera angles on each and every one. Whenever there's a close play, Shine doesn't have a lot of time to a) examine the replay, oftentimes more than once; b) determine whether a challenge is in order and c) call the information up to the dugout.
"He's done a great job of seeing those plays and making a 15-second judgment," Redmond said. "It's not easy. He's been a huge weapon for us, for sure. We buy him as much time as we possibly can. But, still, he's got to be in on every play, and he's got 10 or 15 seconds to make a judgment, safe or out."
One night after getting a call at first overturned in Atlanta, the Marlins challenged a safe call on Jose Altuve's stolen base in Houston. Replays showed Donovan Solano had made a swipe tag on Altuve, who was ultimately ruled to be out.
"He's been all over it and really become a big part of the team," Redmond said of Shine. "When he gets them right, it fires everybody up, too. You think back to the one in San Francisco when (Brandon Hicks) missed first base, that was all him."
Jeff Baker has a 10-game hitting streak, which might not sound like a big deal. But not only is it the longest hitting streak of Baker's career, he's done it the hard way.
Baker came through with pinch-hits in four of those games, which puts him one away from matching the Marlins' franchise record for consecutive pinch-hits, shared by Wes Helms (2008) and Greg Briley (1993).
"Obviously, the first month of the season for me was extremely rough," Baker said. "But just staying with my approach, not trying to change and do too much because the stats aren't exactly where you wnted them..."
Though he's worked in five of the past six games, earning saves in each, Steve Cishek said he'll be available again Saturday.
"You doubting me?" Cishek asked.
After a rough patch, Cishek said he's made a couple of minor adjustments to get back on track.
"It's just one little adjustment that I had to make, which was driving the ball down in the zone," he said. "Everything I threw in those other games were bad pitches, especially against Oakland. Everything was up. It wasn't so much the approach as much as it was the location and execution of the pitch. Just battled to get that feel back. I'm sure it won't be the last time I struggle."
HOUSTON -- For your viewing pleasure, a video of last night's brawl in Jacksonville between the Suns and Birmingham Barons. It's a good one. Suns manager Andy Barkett turned in a top performance, going into a baseball-throwing tizzy after being ejected by umpires.
Check it out for yourself: