If you listened closely during yesterday’s Marlins game, you could just hear legendary Cleveland Indians announcer Harry Doyle calling “Ball 8” yesterday on that second Fernando Rodney walk.
Rodney’s implosion capped off a disastrous trip, and the corresponding loss completed what felt like an inevitable journey ever since Giancarlo Stanton strained that groin muscle against the White Sox three weeks ago:
The Miami Marlins are back below .500, for the first time since that bizarre day in late April when the Fish swept the Dodgers only to have Dee Gordon suspended for eighty games later that night.
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Scoring had been the problem. Really, it has been one the entire season, but the past couple weeks really saw the bottom drop out. The last three to fives games though saw a fair bit of the Marlins standard level of pop return, scoring first on multiple occasions, and even demonstrating an ability to rally when some extra runs were needed. Basically what you saw for all of June and July. If the Fish had gotten the same kind of pitching this week they enjoyed in the previous week, we’d be celebrating this road trip instead of looking at it as the nail in the coffin it very likely is.
But the bullpen that has been leaned on so heavily all season long is finally crying uncle, the result of having to absorb so many body blows to the starting rotation that broke camp in Jupiter last March. And staff ace Jose Fernandez, phenomenal on so many levels this season, is really starting to look like a guy that has pitched more innings this season than he has in his past two combined, and is fast approaching a career high.
If both sides can start to somewhat overlap again, a successful season is still within reach. Of the club’s twenty-five remaining games, only twelve are against teams with winning records, and nine of those are at Marlins Park. Plenty of room to pad the record, especially when you consider that the Nationals will have precious little to play for; they will have certainly clinched by the time of that final series, and likely will have all but done so even by the start of that first series on the 19th of this month.
It must be both sides though. The 2016 Marlins are talented, and remain so even as decimated as they are. But neither side of the ball is good enough right now to completely carry the other: August was the proof of that.
If the seesaw nature continues this week, rest easy as you shift attention to football. Because for the Marlins, it’ll be time to dig out that classic Cubs fan lament, and start thinking of next year.