Dunn's 10 wins an unexpected boost for Marlins
Miami's leader in wins this season isn't one of their highly touted young starters, but rather a left-handed reliever who has never made a Major League start in his six-year career. Dunn picked up his 10th win of the season Thursday night, throwing two perfect innings as Miami rallied to top Arizona 5-4 to enhance its chances in the National League wild-card chase.
His bullpen cohorts say he ''vultures'' wins. Nobody is complaining.
''I'm going to go out there and just try to do my job, no matter what inning it is,'' Dunn said. ''Whatever the situation is, I want to just go out there and give our team the best opportunity to win a game.''
Dunn defers all the credit for his unusual achievement to the Marlins' batters, since they're the ones either breaking ties or coming from behind and making him the right-place, right-time benefactor. Still, there's still about one-quarter of the season left, and he's already become the first MLB reliever since 2011 to hit double-digits in victories
But to put some things in perspective, Marlins' ace Jose Fernandez had 12 wins last season on his way to rookie of the year honors. David Price has 11 wins so far this season. Justin Verlander has 10 and R.A. Dickey - not that far removed from a Cy Young - is only on nine wins so far in 2014.
''We don't need any of those comparisons,'' Dunn said.
The Marlins have 30 one-run victories entering Friday, and Dunn has been the pitcher of record in nine of those. He's appeared in 56 games and allowed an earned run in only 11 of them.
Again, without the offense doing work late, Dunn's work might not be noticed.
''He's a workhorse,'' Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. ''This guy's pitched some huge innings for us. He'll take the ball every single day. He's a competitor, man. He wants to be out there when the game's on the line and (Thursday) was a great example of that, throwing two innings, two big innings and kept us there and gave us a chance. That's what it's all about. This is a group effort. This is a team.''
They preached consistency. Dunn took note.
''I'd gladly give up all the wins to any of the starters,'' Dunn said.
When Marcell Ozuna's line-drive double drove in the winning run Thursday, the Marlins mobbed him behind second base. Before that joyous melee broke up, several relievers were flapping their arms in Dunn's direction, emulating a certain type of bird.
Being called a vulture isn't often a flattering term. And in baseball lexicon, that's what Dunn has been doing - ''vulturing'' wins by being the benefactor of late heroics at the plate.
For the Marlins, that's a very good thing.
''When I look up and see it, it definitely sets me back,'' Dunn said. ''I joke around with people and everyone's joking around with me. Feels like I've got like a starter's record. But that just means we're in ballgames late and we're going out there and just trying to keep it close for the offense.''