ARLINGTON, Texas -- Steve Cishek was excited about the Miami Marlins' rare visit to face the Texas Rangers this week at Globe Life Park.
Not because it was the site of his first major league win. Rather, the off-day provided the chance for the Marlins closer to make his first visit to the Six Flags amusement park next door.
"Had a great time, rode some roller coasters. I'm an adrenaline junkie," Cishek said. "Any time I can have a chance to go to a theme park, some place I haven't been, I'm going to take full advantage of it."
At 27, Cishek hasn't lost his youthful appearance or enthusiasm. He sounded every bit the teenager on spring break recounting his day at the park with fellow relief pitchers Mike Dunn and Chris Hatcher.
For example, the rush of the ride on the Titan coaster.
"It's like when a dog sticks their face out of a car window going 85. You can't even close your eyes. It's like pinning your face back. It was awesome," Cishek said, adding that the group felt a bit woozy afterward.
It is a sensation similar to that of the roller-coaster ride working out of ninth-inning jams, says Cishek, who has been one of baseball's most effective closers since taking the job in the second half of the 2012 season.
The 6-foot-6 Cishek may appear laidback. He is polite, God fearing. But inside stirs the tempest of a thrill seeker. It is why he thrives in pressure situations with the game on the line. And why he is able to retain an adolescent exuberance in the most adult role in the bullpen.
It also explains how he remains unfazed in the most perilous of predicaments such as last week at Tampa Bay when he got himself into a bases-loaded jam that started with an error. He gave up a run on a groundout, but preserved a one-run victory by getting the last two outs with the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
"I just like the adrenaline. There's something about it," he said.
"I wouldn't say adrenaline junkie as in I'm jumping out of helicopters and planes. But roller coasters, for sure. Paintball, I get super adrenaline rush from that, knowing I'm going to get hit and it's going to hurt like crazy. I usually wear something bright so people shoot at me."
Cishek is more of a target this season with the Marlins in contention in the National League East. He has been as reliable as last season when he was preserving leads for a 100-loss team.
Since his franchise-record streak of 33 consecutive saves was snapped April 25 at New York, the lanky sidearmer has converted 11 chances. There was a stumble recently when he came into a tie game and served a winning home run to Atlanta's Evan Gattis.
But when Marlins manager Mike Redmond calls Cishek into the game, he feels confident the job will get done.
Cishek's 15 saves rank eighth in the NL, but all but one of the closers ahead of him have blown two or more chances.
"When you start winning ballgames, that changes everything. ... It's the guys that step up and take it to the next level that are special," Redmond said. "I feel good having him down there and knowing what he brings to the ballclub and how important he is."
Although growing up a Red Sox fan, the native of Falmouth, Mass., said he found the model to emulate in Yankees great Mariano Rivera. He admired the cool, business-like demeanor Rivera took to the mound, and how he reacted the same whether he retired the side 1-2-3 or gave up a lead, which wasn't often.
Consequently, Cishek learned to keep a lid on his emotions while feeding off of them. That's why he pauses to read the Bible verse he keeps in his back pocket: to put the task in perspective before stepping onto the mound.
"If I don't have adrenaline, that's when I'm usually in trouble. The velocity is the same, but the conviction behind the pitches isn't the same," he said. "I just have to go out there and not be scared about anything."
Same as when he gets strapped into his favorite roller coaster at Orlando's Islands of Adventure.
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