MIAMI -- The way the Marlins have been playing lately, they might be most susceptible to injury while celebrating.
Greg Dobbs singled in the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Friday night to give Miami a 6-5 win over the New York Mets at Marlins Park. Then he braced himself between first and second base when a swarm of teammates joyfully ran out to mob him.
"You just feel things coming around you like you're in the middle of a hurricane," said Dobbs, who removed his batting helmet just in time so his "head didn't get pounded and I have concussion syndrome."
Celebrations are becoming quite common lately for the Marlins. They've won nine of their past 10 games, with four having come in their final at-bat.
It wasn't long ago some were wondering if the Marlins might sink after expectations had been so high due to an increased payroll and moving into a spanking new stadium. They were 8-14 nearly two weeks ago when they headed out West on a nine-game trip.
But when they came back it was as if they were a new team. They swept series at San Francisco and San Diego and took two out of three at Houston.
"That's baseball," said Dobbs, whose team is now 17-15. "Baseball is a funny game. It will humble you and reward you and things can change in a heartbeat. It took us leaving here going on a West Coast swing all the way across the country, and now things are clicking for us."
Whatever changed on the trip, the Marlins brought it back with them. Miami trailed 5-3 Friday entering the bottom of the eighth before plating one run then and two in the ninth.
"When things are going your way, that's what you're going to see," manager Ozzie Guillen said after his Marlins got an eighth-inning double by Omar Infante that scored Jose Reyes and in the ninth got a double by Giancarlo Stanton and a run-scoring single and a stolen base by Emilio Bonifacio before Dobbs' hit.
Actually, Guillen expects to see a lot more of that out of his team. Although they pounded out 10 hits Friday, during most their trip out West the Marlins resembled the 1906 Chicago White Sox, known as the "Hitless Wonders" for winning the World Series despite a substandard offense.
During their 8-1 trip, the Marlins won a game by scoring two runs, two when scoring three times and another two with four runs. The pitching was great but the offense often was brutal.
"We're playing good, we're winning games and we're still not hitting," Guillen said before the game. "That's something that you say, Wow. How is this team going to look when we start hitting?"'
The Marlins have an ERA of 3.21 to rank third in the National League while their batting average of .229 ranks 14th. At .330, Infante is the only regular hitting above .280. And Reyes is batting a meager .234, more than 100 points less than the shortstop's NL-best .337 average last season with the Mets.
Reyes tripled to lead off Friday's game and scored the Marlins' first run as they took a 3-0 lead. He didn't get another hit rest of the night to finish 1-for-4, but at least that raised his average.
"It's not the way that I want to (start the season), but at least we're winning," Reyes said. "I know that I have to get on base more. But it's going to come. It's a long season."
Great things were expected from Reyes this season after he signed with the Marlins as a free agent, joining decorated pitching signees Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. Reyes was on the cover of Sports Illustrated along with Guillen in March for an article that only raised expectations even more.
All the media attention might have played a role in the Marlins getting off to a crummy start. At least that's the word from Stanton.
"Anytime you get all this new anything, new players, new colors, new stadium, you're not just going to be thrown under the rug from the get-go," Stanton said. "So we got all this attention and we kind of dropped the ball a little bit in the beginning."
Stanton said Guillen being suspended last month for five games after making a favorable remark about Fidel Castro played just a small role in the Marlins being distracted. Regardless, pitcher Aribal Sanchez said "nobody ever talks that anymore."
So what do the Marlins talk about? Thanks to their recent hot streak, some of the conversation is about their bid to make the playoffs for the first time since they won the 2003 World Series, their second title in a seven-season span.
"The team is pretty good," Sanchez said. "If we continue to do like this, definitely we're going to be in the playoffs. We've got the talent and the players for it."
It sure helps the way Sanchez (2-0, 2.01 ERA) is throwing. He's one of four Miami starters with an ERA under 3.00, joining Carlos Zambrano (1-2, 1.98), Ricky Nolasco (4-0, 2.72) and Buehrle (2-4, 2.81).
But one pitcher who mostly has bombed has been Bell. After predicting before the season he would be the best closer the Marlins ever have seen, he's blown four saves in seven chances and has an astronomical 9.28 ERA.
But Bell, who recently lost his closing job but was said by Guillen on Friday he likely soon will get it back, did record his first Miami win Friday. He pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, and the Marlins rewarded Bell (1-3) in the bottom of the frame.
"It means a lot for me to get my first win as a Marlin," Bell said. "We went on the road and I kind of stunk and I've been watching these guys play great ball and pick me up."
When Bell was struggling, his teammates didn't get down on him. Bell said that was the case all around when the Marlins got off to their tough start.
"We didn't play well and guys weren't playing up to their ability, but we all started patting each other on the back," Bell said. "We didn't go, Why aren't you doing this?' We kept patting each other on the back and saying, Don't worry, you can do it."'
The Marlins are continuing to pat each other on the back. The difference now is it's often during victory celebrations.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson