When the Marlins left Philadelphia after beating the five-time defending National League East champion Phillies two games out of three in their first series of June, Miami couldnt have had a clue the sixth month of the year would again bring trouble.
On June 3, Miami was tied for first in the division and neither injury nor negligence deeply affected the squad. Unfortunately for the Marlins, their season crumbled in the first month of summer sun.
The Marlins record leaving Philadelphia stands at 4-17. They slid all the way into last place in their division and havent been playing like the team that lunged forward early in its inaugural season under the flashy Miami preface. The Marlins won more games in May than in any month in franchise history, posting a 21-8 record.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said he has a great team that is playing horrible baseball. He said hes still waiting to see the team live up to its full potential, which could start happening when Miami gets back on the field for a three-game home series against Philadelphia beginning Friday night.
Every time I show up at the ball park, I expect the team to play well because we have the people out there who can do that, Guillen said.
Last year, the Marlins took the same route and went 5-23 in June, recording the most losses in a month in the clubs history.
Reliever Randy Choate said when losses start piling up, the pressure intensifies and each player tries to turn in an individual effort to stop it, which can be more than a player is capable of.
However, the Phillies have had some trouble of their own since the Marlins slapped them around. Philadelphia and Miami are tied at the bottom tier of the division, nine games behind the leading Washington Nationals.
The Phillies June record also doesnt hold up to its status as an esteemed ball club. They have gone 8-14 after the Marlins latest departure from Citizens Bank Park. This will be Philadelphias first visit to Marlins Park.
You cant take them lightly, closer Heath Bell said. Theyre a really good ball club. Majority of those guys were in the playoffs; majority of those guys were in the World Series a few years ago. Theyre a talented bunch. They started off pretty bad but theyre slowly coming together and theyre a force to be reckoned with. We have to beat them to win the East.
The injury bug reared its head again and again on the Phillies this season, claiming vital players such as ace Roy Halladay and slugger Ryan Howard. In total, Philadelphia has nine players with a recorded injury.
Emilio Bonifacio is the only big missing link on the Marlins, but he was cleared to begin hitting off the tee and playing catch last Tuesday.
Weve definitely been luckier in the injury department, Choate said. Its unfortunate to lose Bonifacio but we havent had the injuries that they have. Thats the thing with baseball. You get those expectations at the beginning of the year and then if somebody like Halladay for them gets hurt, thats a huge loss.
Bell said this one Phillies series wont decide the next month for the Marlins. Despite its record, he said Miami has played good baseball the past couple of games.
The Marlins rocked the Blue Jays 9-0 on Sunday and rode back-to-back homers by John Buck and Logan Morrison to take a lead they did not relinquish, in a 5-3 win Wednesday over the Cardinals.
In contrast to Bell, Choate said closing with the Phillies in Miami might reinvigorate the struggling Marlins.
Were at home, so this is one where theyre coming to your place and youve to kick your opponent while their down because theyre going to do the same to you, Choate said. Youve got to use this series at least win the series hopefully try and sweep going into July and start a new month. Forget about June and beat an opponent thats in our division. Thats the biggest thing.