Miami Marlins choke away huge opportunity against Braves

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Even if the Marlins set the single-game scoring record in Sunday’s finale to capture the series, that won’t excuse a crucial missed opportunity Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

Yep, once again the Miami Marlins tapped out and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Braves.

Full disclosure, I’m probably writing this too soon after finding out the score of the game. But let’s face it. If the Marlins traded for Nick Markakis and never used him in a game, their projected wins would probably still go up on account of not having to face him anymore. The Braves continue to find ways to climb back in and punish a Miami team that is far superior to them in overall talent.

The only thing that didn’t go perfectly to Braves-Marlins script of late in this game was the fact that I’m completely unable to blame David Phelps for this.

Now, it’s entirely possible the Marlins win tomorrow. They will be there after all. There’s always a chance that moving Jose Urena‘s start up won’t mess with his rhythm, and he’ll turn in one of those scoreless gems of his. Maybe the bats explode, maybe the pitching is crisp. Maybe the Marlins win two of three, and do all that a manager can reasonably ask his club to do.

But the point is they shouldn’t have to. You shouldn’t have to care if Miami wins tomorrow. When Markakis or Brandon Phillips hit 3 HR tomorrow and hoist a small child on their shoulders in honor of Father’s Day, it should be a minor sting at worst.

How this changes things

Tomorrow should be a chance for a second consecutive sweep. And tonight should be about being excited over a pivotal home stand. Instead, the Braves have tripped them up again, and the Fish have to play for keeps tomorrow.

That means Justin Bour has to play. That means Giancarlo Stanton has to play. That means the team can’t roll Vance Worley out there and say, “See you in 100 pitches.” No extra at-bats to keep Ichiro and Tyler Moore hot.

It means that there is suddenly a difficult call to make behind the plate Sunday. Do you run J.T. Realmuto out there in a series clinching game? Or do you have to give the getaway day start to A.J. Ellis?

This all should have been academic. Now, not so much.

Again, the Miami Marlins could win Sunday. But the opportunity to rest their regulars in a ten game in ten day stretch that includes travel? Good teams don’t waste those chances. It’s a chance the Marlins have missed far too many times in 2017.

Win or lose tomorrow, the point stands.

Just last Saturday, the team let a similar opportunity against Pittsburgh slip through their fingers. The Marlins have been in the drivers seat just twice the entire season:

A few weeks ago against Philadelphia, and in the second series of the season against the Mets.

Next: Interview with Miami Marlins radio broadcaster Glenn Geffner, Part I

Beyond that, the Fish have failed to win either Game 1 or Game 2/3 every time. Meaning the last game of the series has almost always counted. Teams need to grab rest where they can in sports’ longest season.

The Miami Marlins continue to struggle to do so.