For first time since the Marlins called him up Wednesday, Ed Lucas arrived at Marlins Park on Sunday and felt like he belonged.
The pregame routine familiar to many major leaguers finally seemed natural to Lucas, who spent 10 seasons and 925 games in the minor leagues before making the leap to the big-league club a week after his 31st birthday.
His newfound confidence paid off.
Lucas’s 4-for-4 game and two RBIs helped engineer Miami’s 11-6 win over the New York Mets and gave the Marlins their first series sweep since July 1, 2012, when they completed a three-game sweep of Philadelphia.
“Whether you’re on the sandlot or in Triple-A or in the big leagues, once you get in between the lines, it’s the same rules,” Lucas said. “I’ve finally been able to slow it down and enjoy it as it comes.”
Miami (16-41) certainly enjoyed Sunday’s series finale. The Marlins matched their season high in hits with 16 and produced a double-digit run total for only the second time this season.
Songs by the rapper Mystikal pulsated throughout the Marlins’ clubhouse after the game. The players smiled and laughed and talked over the music.
The positivity even touched pitcher Kevin Slowey, despite a frustrating 4 1/3-inning start in which he lost the early three-run lead his teammates gave him.
“There’ve been a lot of close games, close series,” said Slowey, who gave up six runs and six hits. “We’re starting to see that turn a bit.”
Chris Coghlan ripped four hits, including an RBI double, a day after collecting three hits. Juan Pierre single twice and reached base five times.
Marcell Ozuna, a day after his 16-game hitting streak ended, had a double and a triple among his three hits and drove in four runs.
And, yes, the Marlins even homered. Greg Dobbs hit a three-run blast to right field in the eighth inning to give Miami an 11-6 lead.
“That home run statue must be on nuclear power or something,” joked Marlins manager Mike Redmond. “It took awhile for that thing to light up again.
“I know it works because they test it every single day during batting practice.”
Before the weekend series, the Marlins had been shut out nine times on the season. Articles compared Miami to the worst teams in baseball history.
But the Marlins insisted they were close to finding a winning formula. They just need a big hit or two, Redmond contended before Saturday’s game, or a big play in an important moment.
The clutch hits came in Friday and Saturday’s wins, dominant victories in which Miami scored 13 total runs and held New York to a pair of one-run outings.
And on Sunday, after losing an early 4-1 lead, the key hits came in waves.
Miami knocked New York ace Matt Harvey out of the game after five innings. He allowed four runs and 10 hits, and his ERA rose to 2.17.
Then, in the sixth, Ozuna’s line-drive double to left-center field with the bases loaded scored two runs and tied the game at 6. Coghlan’s ground ball to second on the next play scored Derek Dietrich, and the Marlins never looked back.
“I felt good about how these guys approached the game,” Redmond said. “I knew this day was going to come.”
Dobbs, Redmond and Slowey each mentioned a noticeable pep in their team during the weekend series.
They each mentioned Lucas, along with the spunky 22-year-old Ozuna, as the source of some much-needed enthusiasm.
“First couple days here I was just trying to get acclimated and trying to knock all those original milestones out of the way,” Lucas said.
“I got my first hit, and you know, we’ve been winning. Today was the first time I came to the park and said, ‘I’m here. Let’s play baseball.’ ”
Noteworthy: The Marlins activated opening-day first baseman Casey Kotchman (strained hamstring) off the 60-day disabled list and designated outfielder Jordan Brown for assignment. … Left-hander Wade LeBlanc (1-5), who earned the win Sunday in relief, will be designated for assignment Monday and lefty Edgar Olmos will be recalled from Class AA Jacksonville.