Steve Cishek isn’t having a great season.
The Marlins closer, who hasn’t had much to close for a horrendous team, is 1-4 with seven saves and a 4.00 earned run average.
But he had a good night Tuesday in Marlins Park, and it had nothing to do with the scoreless inning he pitched in a win against Milwaukee.
Nope, he had a good night because his wife, Marissa, had a great day.
Steve and Marissa, who was Marissa Mitchell back then, were high school sweethearts in Falmouth, Mass., once upon a time not so long ago. As he fell in love, Steve grew close to Marissa’s parents, Sharon and Bob, who were exuberant when their daughter married him.
The wedding was Nov. 10 last year.
Bob was deep into a fight against PKD – polycystic kidney disease – at the time, and receiving dialysis treatments.
A week later, Sharon got news that she was a blood and tissue match for her husband, and could be a kidney donor for him if she could get her blood sugar levels in order. She promptly went on a specific diet.
The successful transplant surgery was Tuesday in Worcester, Mass.
How’s that for a late celebration of 30 years of marriage?
“It all has been so amazing,” Marissa said by phone Wednesday night. “We were told it’s pretty rare for a husband and wife to be a match for transplants, because they aren’t blood relatives. There’s so much that has to be compatible for it to be a match. It’s really overwhelming.
“Everything is going well. Mom’s recovery time might take a little longer, but she’s doing fine. Steve even got to talk to her (Wednesday).”
It had been a long Tuesday for him.
“She’s an amazing woman, and what she did is proof if anyone needed it,” Cishek said of his mother-in-law while seated at his cubicle in the Marlins clubhouse Wednesday. “Everything is family first for her.
“I wanted to take my phone with me to the bullpen (Tuesday), but rules are rules.”
He didn’t have to, as things turned out.
Marissa, who is finishing out her year as a first-grade teacher in Falmouth, called Steve with good news about 90 minutes before the game’s first pitch.
“I told him he could quit worrying,” she said. “I knew he would be. He’s very close to my parents, and they really do love him like a son.”
The reliever was, well, relieved.
“It was a load off my mind,” Cishek said. “I was thinking about them all day. It might have been hard to concentrate on the game if I would have had to pitch not knowing how the surgery went. It wasn’t close to being as hard on me as it was on Marissa, but I was glad to hear everything was OK.”
He’d later go out – with the game on the line – and pitch a perfect ninth inning to preserve a one-run win.
He did what he’s paid to do. He closed.
He didn’t say anything about how his in-laws’ situation lends perspective to a miserable baseball season, because the Cisheks and the Mitchells and every other family that deals with real-life concerns knows as much.
He didn’t say anything about fate or destiny.
What he did say was how happy he’s going to be when Marissa’s school year is finished and they can be together in their first year of marriage.
And with a story to tell about her mother and father, about strength and commitment and dedication and how some saves are immeasurably more important than others.