Marlins reliever Mike Dunn has a new nickname: The Vulture.
Bullpen buddy A.J. Ramos was flapping his arms Sunday morning, a day after Dunn tied a team record with nine wins as a reliever. Saturday night, Dunn swooped in to get the final two outs in the top of the 10th inning, earning the ‘W’ when Christian Yelich hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the inning.
“At this point in the season as long as the W’s are going to someone on our team, that’s all that matters.” Dunn said. “They all make fun of me … They all came in last night flapping their wings.”
Edward Mujica was the last reliever to earn nine wins in 2011, and Robb Nen did it in 1997. Dunn is now fourth in Marlins history with 17 career wins as a reliever. He is a win away from doubling his career high for a season, which he set in 2011 with five.
After earning Saturday’s victory, Dunn said others joked that he was only 11 games away from being a 20-game winner, but he said he’d be fine staying at nine.
“I prefer to get holds and let the starters collect the wins,” Dunn said.
Dunn earned Saturday’s win by striking out both Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce, stranding an inherited runner at third.
“Coming into the game in that situation, I had a one-track mind,” Dunn said. “With Billy Hamilton, I couldn’t let him put the ball in play … I was able to get ahead of him — execute my first two pitches and then I had a little room to make a couple pitches outside the strike zone and get him to chase.
“With Bruce … I ultimately got ahead of him and felt pretty good and was able to get him to chase a pitch out of the zone too.”
Dunn has now logged five appearances without surrendering an earned run, lowering his ERA to 3.79 on the year. Four of his wins have come in July.
Henderson Alvarez is second on the team with eight wins.
VALDESPIN TRYING TO STAY HOT
By going 2-for-4 for a second straight game Saturday, second baseman Jordany Valdespin raised his average to .289 through his first 14 games with Miami. That ranks third among Marlins position players, behind only Casey McGehee and Giancarlo Stanton.
Valdespin has a hit in four of his last five games and seven of his last 18 at-bats.
Less than a month ago, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said the team was in the market for a second baseman. Last week Hill said he liked how Valdespin had fit into the lineup and the former Met remained the starter following last week’s trade deadline.
With that date passed, Valdespin can look forward and focus on continuing to help the team.
“Everything is good right now so I hope to keep doing well and keep playing everyday,” Valdespin said. “We have a good team and we can make the playoffs so we need to keep playing like this … playing with emotion.”
SALTALAMACCHIA OUT AGAIN
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was not in the starting lineup for a second straight game Sunday. Saturday, manager Mike Redmond said the backstop was dealing with a sore back, but Saltalamacchia said he feels fine.
“I don’t know what that’s about,” Saltalamacchia said before Sunday’s game. “My back feels great.”
He added that Redmond told him Saturday night that Mathis would be starting Sunday without giving a specific reason.
Asked if he was antsy to return to the starting lineup, Saltalamacchia said he was.
“Yea, of course,” he said. “I’m watching our team play great right now and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Saltalamacchia had not missed two straight games since June 19 after he was struck by a foul ball.
In his last 10 games, Saltalamacchia has hit .250. He was 0-for-4 in his last appearance Friday.
Backup Jeff Mathis has hit .097 in his last 10 times out.
> Reds (55-55): 1. Billy Hamilton CF, 2. Jay Bruce RF, 3. Todd Frazier 1B, 4. Devin Mesoraco C, 5. Ryan Ludwick 1B, 6. Skip Schumaker 2B, 8. Kris Negron 3B, 8. Zack Cozart SS, 9. Mike Leake RHP.
> Marlins (54-56): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Jacob Turner RHP.
- Monday: OFF
- Tuesday: Marlins LHP Brad Hand (2-3, 4.15 ERA) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates TBA, 7:05 p.m., PNC Park