Lindstrom's 'conviction' leads to rebound
First-year closer locks in to bounce back from tough outing
NEW YORK -- Last Friday, Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom attempted to preserve a three-run ninth-inning lead, but he ended up surrendering seven runs. On Tuesday, the hard-throwing right-hander again was again asked to close out a three-run advantage and this time, he slammed the door.
In retiring the Mets in order in Florida's 7-4 win at Citi Field on Tuesday, Lindstrom attacked the strike zone, humming in his 98 mph fastball with authority.
"I just went out there and threw my pitches with conviction, which is something I didn't do the last time out," Lindstrom said. "Not throwing the ball [with conviction] and hoping to get guys out ... that's not going to work up here. I proved that theory last Friday."
It's been a frustrating few days for Lindstrom, who noted that it felt like a year passed between the two outings. Last Friday at Dolphin Stadium, he was tagged with the 7-3 loss to the Phillies. Of his 38 pitches that night, just 18 were for strikes, and he was victimized by a grand slam from Shane Victorino. He was itching to get out on the mound again, and that opportunity came four nights later.
"It felt like probably a year had gone by -- just because you want to get back out there," Lindstrom said. "You know what you did wrong and you're wanting to fix it."
On Tuesday, Lindstrom was in complete command. He retired the side in order on 14 pitches, with nine going for strikes. Showing his overpowering fastball, the Marlins' first-year closer went right after hitters. That was the case, especially, against Jose Reyes. With the count at 2-2, Lindstrom blazed in a 97 mph heater that Reyes swung through.
By registering his fourth save in six attempts, Lindstrom did his part in helping Florida snap its seven-game losing streak. During the slide, the bullpen surrendered ninth-inning leads to the Phillies last Friday and Saturday in Miami.
As an organization, the Marlins maintain that they have the talent in the bullpen, but that it's just a matter of the players maturing into their roles. Lindstrom was a setup reliever last year before getting a taste of closing in September.
Leo Nunez was working out of the Royals' bullpen a year ago, but now the right-hander is the primary eighth-inning reliever and the second option to close. Kiko Calero and Dan Meyer are each in their first seasons with the Marlins. Thus far, both have been steady.
"Hopefully we can take this momentum and feed off each other," Lindstrom said. "Dan has done a great job. Leo has been probably our most consistent reliever, and so has Kiko. I just think if we help each other out, and get the job done, and keep filling the strike zone -- I think that's the biggest thing. When we start walking people, once we take care of that, we should be fine."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.