The Miami Marlins were 53-39 at the Major League Baseball All-Star Break and were playing like "nothing was going to stop you," Marc Hochman said in a conversation with pitcher Braxton Garrett on Hoch & Crowder Monday.
Right out of the break Miami traveled to Baltimore and lost three in a row. The Marlins weren't blown out (two one-run games and a 5-2 loss), but getting swept changed the mentality of the team a bit, Garrett said.
"We wen't through a little rut there when the All-Star Break ended," Garrett said. "We went to Baltimore against a really good team. We didn't play terrible, but we got swept. It was a snowball effect from there.
"One of our assistant coaches, Rod Barajas, explained it to me perfectly while we were going through that. 'In the first half of the season we never thought we were going to lose. If we were ever down we thought something good was going to happen and we were going to come back. Once we got into that rut the energy changes, it feels like we're waiting for something bad to happen anytime we were up or when we'd go down.'"
Over 21 games directly after the All-Star Break, Miami was 5-16 and at one time lost eight in a row. The Marlins traveled to Cincinnati with a 58-56 record on August 7 and a change needed to happen.
"We had a really good player's meeting in Cincinnati to just flip the script, change the energy, and have more fun in the dugout," Garrett said. "We won our next game after that and just took that attitude for the rest of the season."
The Marlins won 26 games over the remainer of their schedule. Miami split six games against the Dodgers and Brewers, took two of three from the Phillies, and swept the Braves on their way to a 5-seed Wildcard spot.
Having a good time in the dugout, Garrett told Hochman and Crowder was one of the keys to the successful run late in the season. "Pass the baton" is one of the Marlins' mantras in the dugout. If someone doesn't get a job done, Miami players knew to "pass the baton and the next guy would get it done."
Miami will take on the Phillies with Game 1 on Tuesday at 8:08 p.m. Garrett will pitch Game 2 on Wednesday.