4/20/2014 2:23 P.M. ET
Bullpen the beneficiary of Alvarez's gem
By Joe Frisaro and Steve Dorsey / MLB.com
MIAMI -- There was still a buzz Sunday about the complete-game two-hitter that Henderson Alvarez threw Saturday night in a 7-0 Marlins win against the Mariners.
Alvarez's performance -- he needed just 90 pitches to complete the shutout, the fewest ever by a Marlins pitcher in a complete game -- certainly should be a confidence booster for him. It also was helpful for a Marlins bullpen that has struggled and could benefit from the rest afforded by Alvarez's gem.
"Of course, it was important," Marlins closer Steve Cishek said. "It's a long season, so any time a starter throws a complete game, it takes a lot of stress off us. Some of the guys needed a couple days off."
Cishek said he's not concerned about the bullpen's recent inability to hold leads.
"It's early in the season," the closer said. "Just got to work some stuff out. We have a great bullpen. Things will iron itself out. We did it last year and we're capable of doing it again this year. We'll be fine, I think."
Cishek also said that the Marlins' offensive output has been a good sign, particularly the current home run streak.
"Last year, we struggled with offense," Cishek said. "This year, we've put all that behind us. If we give up a couple of runs, we know [the hitters] are going to punch the other right back in the face and go after them. It's encouraging to see."
McGehee proving to be a hit at Marlins Park
MIAMI -- Marlins Park may frustrate some hitters because of its spacious dimensions, but Casey McGehee is taking advantage of the big building by simply striving to hit the ball hard.
The 31-year-old third baseman has been putting up impressive numbers at home. He entered Sunday's series finale against the Mariners hitting .341 (15-for-44) with four doubles, one triple and 14 RBIs. In the six road games this year, McGehee is hitting .217 (5-for-23) with one double and one RBI.
Overall, he came into Sunday batting .299 with five doubles, one triple and 15 RBIs. He still seeks his first home run of the season.
Rather than look to drive the ball out of the park, McGehee is trying to utilize the open space by putting the ball in play somewhere.
"There are a lot of places to get hits," McGehee said. "Hitting the ball out of the ballpark is a little more of a challenge here than at some other places. But I feel like I'm strong enough that if I do catch one good, I will be able to drive it out of the ballpark. But I think if you go up with that as your sole goal it's going to make for a long year."
Already, the park is showing that the infield plays fast, and there is plenty of space in the outfield.
"If you hit the ball hard, you've got a chance," the third baseman said.
McGehee also is developing a comfort zone just being back in the big leagues. A year ago, he played in Japan, and now he is enjoying the opportunity of being in the lineup every day.
In Japan, McGehee established a better approach, and he learned patience seeing so many forkballs and off-speed pitches.
"I think more than anything it was just going and playing every day, and getting back into the mode of being able to have an approach at the plate, and not be so result-oriented all the time, which is easier said than done," McGehee said. "It's easier when you're playing every day. Not that you don't want to get a hit every time you go up there, but it's a little bit easier to stick with a plan and work an approach, and you know over the long haul that it's going to play."
Marlins offense getting it done early
MIAMI -- The Marlins entered Sunday's game against the Mariners with some impressive offensive statistics.
Miami was second in the National League in team batting average (.279) and runs (91), and the Marlins lead the NL in walks (63).
Christian Yelich extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games in Saturday night's 7-0 win over Seattle and entered Sunday's final game of the homestand with a .338 batting average at the top of the lineup. Marcell Ozuna (.343), Giancarlo Stanton (.315) and Adeiny Hechavarria (.319) were also hitting above .300 and Casey McGehee (.299) was just below that magical mark.
The Marlins also extended their home run-hitting streak to 10 consecutive games on Saturday night when Ozuna launched his third round-tripper of the season.
Despite those lofty offensive stats, the Marlins will leave for a three-game series in Atlanta with a below-.500 record, despite taking the first two games of this series against the Mariners.
"I don't think we've played as good as we can," Yelich said before Sunday's game. "We had a stretch there where we had some hiccups and didn't play as well as we could, but it's still really early. No one is panicking. We've just got to continue to play good baseball."
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said that the Marlins' all-around solid performance Saturday night -- including a complete-game gem by starter Henderson Alvarez -- is more indicative of the Marlins' potential.
"To win, you've got to have everything working. Hitting, defense and pitching," Saltalamacchia said. "We've been able to score runs, but we haven't been able to hold other teams. Defense has hurt us a couple of games, but it's part of it. Once that all clicks together like it did [Saturday] night and the night before [an 8-4 win on Friday], we're going to start winning some games."
Saltalamacchia knows that guys like Stanton and Ozuna are capable of hitting plenty of home runs, but he said it's not always about trying to go deep and win a game with the long ball.
"I think we're concentrating on hitting line drives and I think that's made us have a better approach at the plate and not trying to hit it over the fence every time," he said.
As for the 8-10 record entering Sunday's game, Saltalamacchia does not seem to worried.
"It's early," Saltalamacchia said. "I'd rather not peak too soon."
• Stanton and McGehee have combined for 41 RBIs in the Marlins' first 18 games, the most by any two teammates in the Majors.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.