08/07 07:22 CDT Marlins' 6-1 start is reminiscent of the 1899 Perfectos
Marlins' 6-1 start is reminiscent of the 1899 Perfectos
By STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer
Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly was talking about this week's doubleheader
sweep at Baltimore that involved a parade of relievers, including several
newcomers rescued from unemployment, and after naming three of them he drew a
"I've got to remember who all we used," Mattingly said. "Who else pitched
today? I don't know."
For the Marlins, this season has been a bit of a blur. It was halted for eight
days because of a coronavirus outbreak that sidelined more than half the team,
and even now, four games into the resumption of play, there's cause for
The Marlins are in first place in August, a first for the franchise. In fact,
at 6-1 they have the best record in baseball, staging a one-year turnaround not
seen since the 1899 St. Louis Perfectos.
"I'm going to have to write a book after this," Mattingly said. "You get
tested, and you persevere."
Following a decade of sub-.500 seasons, the Marlins reported for spring
training with something close to a swagger in Year 3 of their rebuilding
project under CEO Derek Jeter. They still sounded confident even after the
virus sidelined three-fifths of their rotation, eight relievers and six other
"We're ready to win games," rookie outfielder Monte Harrison said. "A lot of
people don't understand that we've got some people here that can play. Whatever
they want to call us --- the bottom feeders or whatever --- there's a rude
awakening that is going to be happening."
Harrison spoke boldly even though he has one career hit, a scratch single
Thursday in the Marlins' 8-7 win at Baltimore. That completed Miami's first
four-game series sweep in more than four years.
Coming off a 57-105 season, the Marlins are the first team to win at least six
of its first seven games after losing 105 or more the previous year since the
Perfectos began 7-0 in 1899. That's according to @StatsbySTATS.
And the Perfectos didn't have their season disrupted by a virus.
After only three games, the Marlins became stranded for a week in Philadelphia.
The infected players were bused back to Miami, while the holdovers were
confined to their hotel rooms and searched for ways to stay sane and in shape.
"I would line up the mattress and set up the chairs as hitters," closer Brandon
Kintzler said, "And I would throw for about half an hour every day."
Meanwhile, management scrambled for reinforcements, and came up with a mix of
veteran castoffs and minor leaguers. Jeter refused to panic and promote top
prospects who aren't ready; instead, Miami called up such farmhands as
30-year-old infielder Eddy Alvarez, a former Olympic silver medalist in
Alvarez, who joined the Marlins' system last year, started both games of
Wednesday's doubleheader. He's 0 for 5 so far as a big leaguer, but he's also
undefeated and said the team's record is no fluke.
"The public doesn't understand our culture here in the Marlins organization, a
culture I've been extremely blessed to be a part of," Alvarez said. "I didn't
quite understand what it is to have a winning culture. Derek Jeter takes the
lead role. That's the captain, and we can feel that."
There's a curious cohesion and chemistry to the patchwork team, including the
infected players, who were represented in absentia in Baltimore with cutout
images propped in seats near the dugout.
Among the quarantined players back in Miami cheering the club on was shortstop
Miguel Rojas, who fired off more than a dozen tweets during the latest win, a
"I'm sweating," he wrote, "And I don't have fever."
On the subject of pennant fever, it should be noted that four of the Marlins'
six wins have come against the Orioles, who lost 108 games themselves last
year. It should also be noted that the 1899 Perfectos weren't --- they faded
after their fast start to a fifth-place finish in the National League. And the
Marlins face a daunting revised schedule that requires them to play 27 games in
Miami going from 105 losses to the playoffs in one season despite a wave of
virus infection would be crazy, right?
But it would also be so 2020.
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