The Marlins continued to take their recent slide down the divisional ladder, taking four straight losses to the divison-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The sweep gave the Marlins seven straight losses and a 1-15 record in the month of June, an astonishingly poor marl given the play of the Fish during that time period. Each of the four games the Fish lost served as a microcosm of what has happened during this terrible slide which has seen the team’s shot of making the playoffs drop from 38 percent to about four percent according to Baseball Prospectus’s Playoff Odds Report.
Series Hero: Anibal Sanchez (0.232 WPA)
Series Goat: Elih Villanueva (-0.432 WPA)
Impressed by: No one
Depressed by: The entire team
Game 1 / 2: The blowouts
Check out these two similar games.
These two games were essentially carbon copies of each other, with the Marlins well out of the contest very early into the game. In the first game, the Phillies took a 90-plus percent edge in win probability in the fourth inning, when Domonic Brown put up a solo home run against Chris Volstad, the third homer that Volstad allowed that night. Of course, Volstad allowed four home runs that evening on fifteen balls in air (10 fly balls and five line drives) in a repeat performance of his entire 2009 season.
The second game of the series was of similarly poor quality. This time the culprit was Elih Villanueva, who was making his major league debut after being the Marlins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. The debut was a completely forgettable one, as he allowed eight runs off five hits, including a homer. His peripherals were so awful they are barely worth explaining; it is difficult to succeed when you strike out only two guys and walk five in the process. The Marlins were lucky to come away with only eight runs allowed.
Game 3: The heartbreaker
It would not be a Marlins series loss without one heartbreaking result.
The Fish had this one in their grasps going into the ninth inning. Naturally the team sent out Leo Nunez to close out the game, but he faltered for the third time this season in a save opportunity. Nunez’s third blown save looked ugly on the pitch location chart.
To a degree, that was an acceptable set of pitches thrown. Four of the six batters Nunez faced were left-handers (including two switch hitters), and that sort of chart is more typical against lefties. But only two of those pitches turned into successful outs, while three others were driven for base hits. It was somewhat telling to see that Nunez was unable to force a strikeout or even a swing and miss against this set of hitters. This is not to say that this is an extreme indictment on Nunez (as we all know, I Still Believe in Leo Nunez!), but it was certainly yet another disappointing game that turned into a one-run loss for the Marlins, who have now lost nine straight one-run decisions.
Game 4: The offensive outage
The fourth game of the series was a simple offensive outage. After mustering a solid effort against Roy Halladay, the Fish were simply unable to penetrate the excellence of Cliff Lee, who threw a complete game and allowed only two hits with four strikeouts and two walks. While it was not Lee’s most dominant performance, it was more than enough to shut down the Fish; only Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton (Patience and Power!) were able to muster hits for the Marlins, and they were both singles of eventually no importance. This has not happened throughout the long, unbearable losing streak, but it has been a motif that the team occasionally visits. Sometimes the Marlins lose for reasons related to bad luck, bad offense, bad pitching, or bad fielding. This series happened to encompass all of the team’s misgivings wrapped neatly into one ugly week.