Miami’s offense finally came to life, but unfortunately the Marlins (24-30) saw their closer Yimi Garcia blow his second save of the season. The Blue Jays rallied in the ninth, sending the Marlins to their fifth straight loss. Miami entered this series reeling from a recent string of injuries and defeats, which made Wednesday night particularly difficult.
After two straight losses in Boston, and dropping two of three to the Phillies, the Marlins went to Buffalo in hopes of righting the ship. Despite injury difficulties throughout the season, the Marlins has demonstrated its trademark resiliency, but they couldn’t do enough against the Blue Jays.
Marlins Offense Gets Going Against Blue Jays (Sort Of)
The Marlins squared off against the Blue Jays down key contributors on offense. Heading into Wednesday’s game, Miami managed just six runs in their previous five losses. 25 of their 31 hits during these recent defeats were singles. The Marlins managed a meager .211 team batting average during those losses.
And it’s not just clutch situations where the Marlins have struggled, but also in basic baseball. Miami hitters sport a .103 average with runners-in-scoring-position (3-for-29) over this stretch and have stranded 37 runners on base. Many of those runners remained stationary as hitters struck out 50 times. Miami registered just 1.2 runs-per-game in these losses and nearly 40 percent (39.7) of all outs came via strikeout.
Even though the offense scored five runs Wednesday, there was plenty more to be had in the fan box that is Sahlen Field. The Marlins hit a season-high four homers, but three were solo shots. The other drove in just two.
At one point, the offense forced South Florida native Alek Manoah from the game, but couldn’t capitalize on a bases-loaded, one-out situation. The Marlins went 0-for-4 with RISP Wednesday and stranded seven in the one-run loss.
Couple those figures to the previous five losses, and Miami is now .090 with RISP, stranding 44 runners. The Marlins have been outscored by 13 runs during this stretch of six losses in seven games.
One of the few positives could be the awakening of slumbering bats. Corey Dickerson, Chisholm, Jesus Aguilar and Starling Marte all homered. This lifted the team’s home run total to 49, third fewest in MLB.
Another Key Stretch Looms for the Marlins after the Blue Jays
A quick look at Marlins Twitter might reveal a season in shambles. Even Marlins manager Don Mattingly called Wednesday’s night game one they “really need[ed] to get us back on track.”
While there’s certainly fear that the season is slipping away, Miami should see its coming schedule as an opportunity to right the ship. Seven of the next eight games come against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Colorado Rockies. Combined, those two clubs sport a 41-68 record. The Marlins must win the majority of those games to get back into this race.
This skid of six losses in seven games, coupled with the New York Mets recent hot stretch, has resulted in a widening gap within the division. The Marlins stand 6.0 games behind the NL East leaders. The Wild Card gap is larger, as Miami trails by 8.0 games in that race.
The Marlins, though, performed well during their most recent key stretch. A 10-game gauntlet against the Phillies and the Mets saw Miami go 6-4. This upcoming slate against the Pirates, one game in Boston, then home for the Rockies could very well define the summer for the Marlins. If the Marlins can go 6-2 or 5-3 through this stretch, they can carry that momentum into a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.
Including the Braves series, 10 of Miami’s next 11 games are against teams currently below .500. That’s the softest stretch of summer until mid-September. The Marlins are 13-10 against teams below .500 so far this season, versus 11-20 against teams better than .500.
Should the Marlins falter, the team must look to reshape the roster. Veterans could be moved via trade to make space for the up-and-coming prospects, with eyes looking to next season.
Up Next: at Pittsburgh Pirates (20-34)
Hopefully the rain doesn’t follow the Marlins to Pittsburgh. Miami heads to PNC Park for what was supposed to be the last stop on this trip, but Sunday’s rain postponement means the Marlins need to swing through Boston on their way home.
Pittsburgh occupies the NL Central cellar. Their light-hitting offense ranks 24th overall in batting average (.228) and 29th in OPS (.649). They’re one of the few clubs with fewer home runs than the Marlins (37).
The Pittsburgh pitching staff ranks 26th in team ERA (4.83), 21st in WHIP (1.35) and T-21st in batting-average-against (.249). The Pirates start Tyler Anderson (3-5, 4.63 ERA) on Thursday. He’s 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA in five career starts against Miami.
The Marlins could also see JT Brubaker (4-4, 3.74 ERA), Mitch Keller (3-6, 6.54 ERA) and Chase De Jong (0-0, 1.80 ERA) in this series.
PNC Park ranks 23rd in MLB in homers surrendered (85). However, it ranks third in doubles (122), so extra-base hits should be had. And while this has more to do with the Pirates pitching staff rather than the ballpark, but PNC Park has seen the eighth-most runs scored (106) this season. The Pirates are 10-15 at home.
Pittsburgh’s top hitters have been Adam Frazier (.335, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and Bryan Reynolds (.283, 7 HR, 24 RBI). The Pirates are 2-8 over their last 10 with a .214 batting average and 5.05 ERA. They’ve been outscored by 16 over that span.
Miami expects to activate Elieser Hernandez from the 60-day IL Thursday, but a corresponding 40-man roster must be made. The team will finally have a full complement of five starters, with Cody Poteet (2-1, 2.95 ERA), Trevor Rogers (6-3, 1.87 ERA) and Sandy Alcantara (2-5, 3.68 ERA) also expecting a turn in Pittsburgh.