When the calendar flipped from April to May, the Miami Marlins sat in last place in the National League East Division with a mediocre--though preseason expectation-exceeding-- 13-14 record.
What a difference a week makes.
In the last seven days, spanning the final game of the Marlins' sweep of the Braves series and series wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, the Miami Marlins have surged into a tie for first place with the Washington Nationals.
As if the wins weren't enough, the Marlins appear to have added a to the degree of difficulty by waiting until the last at-bat in three of their last four games to secure victory.
The first of these walk-off wins is undoubtedly the most memorable because it occurred against arguably the highest profile team in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and involved arguably the highest profile player in the National League, Yasiel Puig. Puig, who has in the past been accused of not playing the game the "right way" by his critics, threw himself at full speed against the fence in right field in pursuit of what would become a walk-off double by Jeff Baker, which sealed a 2-1 series win for the Marlins against the powerhouse Dodgers on Sunday afternoon.
The next walk-off occurred the very next day. On Monday night, the Marlins, riding high from the weekend series win against the Dodgers, sleepwalked through the first seven innings against the division rival New York Mets without scoring a run. The Mets sent reliever Daisuke Matsuzaka out in the eighth inning to protect a 3-0 lead. He failed. Matsuzaka promptly spoiled starter Jonathan Niese's stellar outing by failing to retire any of the five batters he faced and surrendering three runs to tie the game. This set the stage for Casey McGehee's RBI single up the middle following an intentional walk to Giancarlo Stanton, and yet another Marlins celebration scrum at home plate.
After a ho-hum non-walk-off win on Tuesday against the Mets, the Marlins were back at it again on Wednesday. The Mets and Marlins traded scoreless innings for the first eight frames, with the Marlins choosing to wait until the ninth to do their damage. With runners on first and third and one out, Marcell Ozuna, who has struggled with the strikeout bug of late, stepped up and delivered a shallow sacrifice fly to center fielder Juan Lagares. Lagares' throw did not make it home in time to beat a sliding Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins completed the sweep with a 1-0 walkoff win.
The Marlins now embark upon an eleven-games-in-eleven-days west coast road trip to take on the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately for the Marlins, because baseball rules dictate that home teams get to bat last, it will be impossible to continue the walk-off streak. Nevertheless, the Marlins hope to improve their dismal road record and keep setting the pace in the division.