Thanks to the flailing and failings of the Marlins’ hitters, fans at Tropicana Field loaded up on free pizza during the weekend. Every time a Rays pitcher racks up 10 strikeouts, everyone gets a coupon for a free pie from Papa John’s.
It happened Friday.
It happened Saturday.
And it happened again Sunday when Alex Cobb did a double-digit whiff job on the Marlins in the Rays’ 3-0 victory.
“We made a lot of people get fat,” said Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen. “A lot of people will be overweight. That guy from the pizza place will file for bankruptcy because of us.”
Two days after being one-hit by the Rays, the Marlins were held to just two in what amounted to a Sunday sleepwalk following their 15-inning victory the day before.
Both hits were singles. The Marlins managed to hit just three balls out of the infield. Given that a season-high 14 Marlins were K’d by Rays pitchers on Sunday, perhaps fans could demand an extra topping or two.
“They’re going to run out of dough and cheese [in order to make pizzas],” Guillen said.
It was yet another dismal performance by the Marlins lineup on Sunday, the result of which was the team’s 10th loss in its past 12 games. The Marlins mustered only one earned run in the three games.
“Lousy game,” Guillen said.
The only hits for the Marlins came on a Gaby Sanchez single in the third and a Greg Dobbs single in the seventh. Besides the two singles, the Marlins hit only one other ball out of the infield: Dobbs’ fly ball out to center in the second inning.
“We have to do better offensively,” Guillen said. “We do everything that’s possible we can do to prepare them to play. But you’ve got to execute.”
Guillen said the Marlins hitters might be guilty of trying to be too precise at the plate.
“I think we’ve been a little bit too careful about having perfect at-bats instead of going up their hacking,” Guillen said. “When you start thinking about mechanics and swing, you forget about how to hit the ball.
“I think they have too much information, too much in their heads, and they forget about the one thing, see the ball and put a good swing on it. When you’re in Little League, you don’t watch videos. When you’re in college, you don’t watch videos. You have your grandparents throw batting practice and you make it to the big leagues.”
Guillen said if baseball players were that smart, they would be “working for NASA” or something similar, not playing baseball. Therefore, he said, they need to keep it simple.
Dobbs said there’s some validity to the keep-it-simple approach.
“You can definitely have paralysis by analysis,” Dobbs said. “In most cases, keeping it simple is what’s going to help you the most rather than searching far and wide for an answer or a clue.
“Sometimes getting right back to basics and keeping it simple as possible is usually the best route. But it’s funny how we as athletes probably don’t follow that as often as we should.”
Cobb kept the Marlins off balance with a mixture of a changeup he was able to locate repeatedly for strikes, a curveball and occasional fastball.
Marlins starter Josh Johnson labored for six innings. He threw 108 pitches, only 55 for strikes.
“I was all over the place,” Johnson said. “It was a battle.”
Johnson gave up a leadoff home run in the first to B.J. Upton and another run in the sixth.
The Marlins, on the other hand, never got a runner to second.
“You’ve got to realize it’s not going to last forever,” Dobbs said. “It never does.”