It happened again. The Marlins stranded eight runners in scoring position with two outs and left 11 men on base in a 4-0 loss to the Nationals. The Nationals played the small ball that was successful for the Marlins last night, scoring their four runs on base hits and a sacrifice fly.
Ricky Nolasco went 5 1/3 innings this afternoon, striking out two while giving up two walks, six hits, and four earned runs. From the other side, Stephen Strasburg walked one and fanned seven in a six-hit shutout.
Blown saves by Heath Bell notwithstanding, the biggest single impediment to success this season continues to be basic offense. We saw a glimpse of the possibilities last night, but until the Marlins can perform at the big-league level, they will continue to look like a AAA offense. The differentiator is consistency. There are so many ballplayers that have big-league skills, yet continue to languish in the bus leagues. If they would demonstrate consistency, the big-league clubs would find space for them on the rosters. It’s what the Marlins are missing.
With consistent above average offensive performance, so many of the other complaints about the team would fade into the background. Three simple base hits separated the Marlins from victory tonight.
It’s fashionable to rail on Heath Bell right now, and he’s becoming the lightning rod for blame assignment. I don’t think that all of that weight belongs on Bell’s shoulders, however. I think the lion’s share of the blame belongs on the Marlins’ offense.
Tomorrow evening, Edwin Jackson takes the mound against Carlos Zambrano. In what looks to be the series matchup most in the Marlins’ favor, Big Z 2.0 is a treat to watch, working quickly, and with an enigmatic smile that has to be disconcerting to his opponents. The PABLWC* has also come out with a favorable endorsement of Zambrano.
Prediction: Marlins by two.
Comment Chum: What changes should the front office make to spark the offense?
*The Professional Association of Big League Water Coolers