Monday night's thrilling come-from-behind win against the division-leading Nationals wasn't the first time Mike Redmond was on the bench for a big Marlins comeback.
In fact, the last time the Marlins rallied from a six-run deficit in the seventh inning or later and won prior to Monday was back on June 28, 2003 when Redmond was on the bench cheering his teammates on as they rallied from a 9-2 deficit in the eighth to stun the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Pudge Rodriguez had a pair of clutch RBI singles in the eighth and ninth innings before Mike Lowell's three-run home run on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth put the Marlins in front 10-9.
"Thinking back on that it was an amazing night especially after the night before we got hammered 25-8," Redmond said. "I was in that game in the fourth inning because Pudge was done."
Those Marlins -- the last to win a World Series -- improved to 41-41 with that win and climbed to within 11 games of the division-leading Braves that night before going 50-30 the rest of the way to earn the National League's lone wild card berth.
These Marlins (52-53) climbed to within six games of the division-leading Nationals and 4.5 games back in the wild card race after Monday's thriller.
So what can a win like Monday's do for a team?
"It can really be a catapult for your team and definitely something where if it all works out you can look back and say 'Man I remember that game we came back in.' But I just think overall it just shows the character of this ballclub that these guys don't quit," Redmond said. "I know I've said that a lot. But it's the truth. We're playing a first place team and some times you need a big comeback like that to get you going and reinforce the fact we can play with these guys."
Redmond, though, made one thing clear to his players -- they can't stop pushing forward.
"They're all big," Redmond said. "When you get to this stage of the season and when you have ground to make up -- or even if you're in first place and teams are chasing you -- every game is important. That's what it's all about. That's the beauty of it.
"What you find out about your team is how you do in pressure situations that are must-win. We just need to continue to focus on trying to win ball games and trying to win series. That's what our focus is right now. Last night was a huge win, huge momentum builder. But we have to go out there tonight and answer the bell as well."
Even after winning eight of their last nine games and a season-high five in a row, the Marlins still remain longshots to make the playoffs. According to ESPN's playoff predictor, the Mets (51-55) actually have a better shot at making the playoffs (13.4 percent) than the Marlins do at 8.5.
STRUGGLING STANTON MAY GET A DAY OFF
Redmond said there's a chance he may give the struggling Giancarlo Stanton a day off soon. Although he hit a pair of home runs in back-to-back games right after the All-Star Break, Stanton has been in a funk at the plate in July.
He came in hitting .316 and has seen his average dip 26 points. He came into Tuesday's game hitting just .205 (17 for 83) with two homers, nine RBI and 32 strikeouts this month. He's whiffed eight times over his last three games.
"I haven't been swinging the way I want to for a month," Stanton said Monday. "[Hitting in the derby] did make me feel better. But I'm still not where I want to be. I'm just out of rhythm out of sync."
Said Redmond: "He's been hot for so long you're bound to go through a rough patch and maybe this is his rough patch. Now it's just a matter of him getting through it and working through it. We know that he'll get through it. It's just a matter of when. I think we've seen glimpses of him starting to get through it and then these last couple of games in Houston we're struggles for him, swinging at some balls out of the zone. You just got to keep running him out there. A day off, that could happen too here in the next couple days. We'll kind of see that and play it by ear because we need him."
Stanton has played in all 105 games this season and started 104 of them. The only game he didn't start was May 18th at the Giants. he still came into that game in the eighth inning.
HECHAVARRIA TALKS CLUTCH PLAYS
When it comes to big hits with runners in scoring position the only Marlins regular who has had more struggles than shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria this season (.194) is catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.164).
But on Monday night, Hechavarria delivered big, battling through an 11-pitch at-bat against closer Rafael Soriano and delivering the game-tying triple. Hechavarria then came into score the game-winner moments later on Jeff Baker's line-drive shot off the left field wall.
Still, it was Hechavarria's at-bat most Marlins were talking about on Monday and Tuesday. After starting off with a 2-2 count, Hechavarria fouled off five of the next six pitches offered by Soriano before crushing the 11th pitch into the gap for a triple.
"When it was my turn to get up in the ninth inning with Ozuna at first, I kind of just went up there thinking it was my moment, my turn to provide for the team," Hechavarria said. "When Ozuna got to second base [on the wild pitch], I kind of closed my stance a little bit, concentrated of working the middle of the field. I just sat through all those fouls, kept myself closed and composed at the plate and then I got the pitch and drove it to right for the triple."
Hechavarria said he believes he's a better hitter with two strikes "because I concentrate more on driving the ball up the middle or to the opposite field." But the the numbers don't back it up. In 142 at-bats this season in which he's had two strikes, Hechavarria is hitting only .218 with six RBI. He's been a .329 hitter (85 at-bats) when he's been ahead in the count.
As big as hit was Tuesday, Redmond said nobody on the team forgot his eighth inning diving stop which helped prevent the Natonals from scoring a 7th run. With one out and Bryce Harper on third, Hechavarria dove to his left, caught the ball, stared Harper down before throwing a perfect strike to first for a big out.
It more than made up for his sixth inning error when he made a great play to stop a ball on a bad bounce, but had the ball slip out of his hands as he tried to rush a flip to second base for an out.
"There's more to one way to win ball games and maybe he did it two ways last night with the big hit and the big defensive play," Redmond said. "He's getting better. He's improving. He's a much better hitter this year than he was last year. I think we talked about that -- how much room offensively he had to grow. And he still does. He would he admit he can eliminate some strikeouts, be more selective in the zone. But he's still a young guy and that comes. I remember Alex Gonzalez kind of had the same stuff when he came to the big leagues too. It does take some time. But he's a huge part of our team and a huge part of our defense and it's fun to see him go out there and get better."
> According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB network, the Marlins are among a group of teams who have expressed interest in Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester.
> Nationals (57-46): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Adam LaRoche 1B, 4. Wilson Ramos C, 5. Bryce Harper LF, 6. Ian Desmond SS, 7. Danny Espinosa 2B, 8. Nate McLouth RF, 9. Stephen Strasburg RHP
> Marlins (52-53): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Marcell Ozuna CF, 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 7. Jeff Baker 2B, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Henderson Alvarez RHP