For a team that lost 100 games in 2013, Marlins Park has been ideal and the Marlins' quick start in 2014 is the result of losing only five games at home after an 8-1 homestand that ended on Wednesday afternoon. And after going just 2-10 on the road to begin the year heading into Thursday's contest in San Diego, the Marlins are confident they can turn things around quickly.
Miami's current road trip, which began with the first game of a four game series against the Padres on Thursday night, is their longest of the season, and will be a true test of their ability to play consistently on the road. After facing the Padres, the Marlins will travel to Los Angeles and San Francisco, playing 11 games in 11 days before a scheduled off day.
The 2-10 start on the road is notably significant because of the Marlins' opponents. MIami faced Washington, Phuladelphia, New York, and Atlanta, only coming out with wins over the Braves and Mets. Playing well against the NL East is an integral part of repeated success.
"Just the fact that we've had the amount of success we've had at home, it makes it feel like [the tough road trips were] a long time ago," Casey McGehee said. "I think we've got a lot of guys feeling good about themselves. The great thing is our pitching staff is always going to give us a chance."
At home, the pitching staff has the sixth-best ERA in the Majors at home with a 2.73 mark. That ERA on the road: 4.66, last in the NL.
Miami's pitching staff, led by Jose Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi, has taken advantage of the spaciousness of Marlins Park. While Miami's lineup has taken advantage of the park's gaps, the job of both the starters and the bullpen to get ahead in counts has allowed them to capitalize on what is one of the National League's deeper parks.
The Marlins are batting .303 at home, which has a lot to to with the success of Casey McGehee and Giancarlo Stanton with men on base and the productivity of Christian Yelich at the top of the lineup. Derek Dietrich and Marcell Ozuna have also displayed some power, contributing to the offensive turnaround.
"We're further into the season. Early in the season, you make those first few road trips, it takes a little bit to [get used to] getting back on the road," Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "We just have to continue grinding away."
Despite the fact that the Marlins took two of three from the Dodgers to begin the last homestand and two of three from the Padres to begin the year, getting ahead early will be essential for Miami. The consistency of the starting pitching and lineup will determine how the Marlins fare on one of the longer stretches of games of the year.