Cishek turns corner, starts string of saves

Cishek turns corner, starts string of saves

MIAMI -- Heading into the bottom of the 20th inning at Citi Field on June 8, the Marlins needed Steve Cishek to slam the door.

After more than six hours of baseball against the Mets, Cishek delivered. He finished off New York with seven pitches, notching his sixth save in eight chances, and his first since May 10.

Cishek's 20th-inning save kicked off his current stretch of four consecutive perfect outings. He has needed only 39 pitches to get through his past four innings, striking out four batters.

The closer pinpoints his performance in a 5-3 loss to the White Sox on May 26 as a turning point. He gave up two hits and a critical insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.

"I've kind of been trying to build off that, how I felt," Cishek said. "I'm just attacking the zone, and whatever happens happens."

After faltering against Chicago, Cishek had a 4.87 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He had especially struggled against left-handers before June 8, recording a 4.15 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP.

"I was a little uptight for a while," Cishek said. "Now I'm going out there and just whatever happens happens. That's the best mentality to take when you're coming into a game like that."

Since pitching a perfect 20th for the Marlins in a 2-1 win against the Mets, Cishek has mowed down left-handers, who have gone 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against him.

In Miami's 5-4 win against St. Louis on Friday, Cishek retired three lefties in order. His ERA is down to 3.86 and his WHIP has dropped to 1.18.

"He's worked on execution of his pitches, especially to lefties," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I think it's just consistency. Earlier in the season, he was making some mistakes inside to lefties.

"Now he's just tightened up his breaking ball and he's throwing a few more changeups and he's spotting up his fastball. That's what made him successful last year, and for whatever reason, it wasn't working earlier in the season. But he's been able to work and make the steps he needed to make to get back on track, and he's been outstanding."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.