Marlins hope to improve late-inning pitching

JUPITER, Fla. -- It may be early in Spring Training, but a mildly concerning pattern has developed in recent games for the Marlins.

The pitching has broken down in the middle to late innings.

In Saturday's 8-8 tie with the Mets, Miami held a 7-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie. The Mets were actually without a hit through four innings, but ran off eight total runs from the fifth to eighth innings.

On Friday, in an 8-7 loss to the Twins, the Marlins led 5-3 through five innings. Minnesota responded with five runs in the late innings.

"Any time our guys are swinging the bats and we've got a nice cushion, you want to shut it down," manager Mike Redmond said.

The Marlins' bullpen held off the Mets on Sunday afternoon in a 6-4 comeback win.

Without a lineup loaded with power, the Marlins will be looking to manufacture runs. When they get them, they will be banking on the relievers to do their part.

Obviously, it is Spring Training, and the players' mental clock is for Opening Day. But the young team is striving to gain some confidence and continuity now. The hope is spring success could lead into building a winning culture for the regular season.

"Shutdown innings are important," Redmond said. "After we score, we've got to put a zero up. We did that early. … We've got to do a better job of focusing on that, and executing our pitches."