Should this season end for the Marlins the way the previous 12 have for them — at home for the playoffs — they won’t have to dig deep to come up with explanations.
Injuries crushed them.
Their pitching was so-so.
Their lineup didn’t produce.
But the one that should haunt them most is this: they played their worst against the worst. The latest evidence of that came on Friday at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies saddled them with a 4-3 loss in 13 innings.
That left their combined record against the Phillies and Braves, the two worst teams in the National League East, at 14-18. More significantly, the defeat shoved them five games behind the New York Mets for the second spot in the Wild Card race.
“Every loss is major at this point,” said Marlins starter Tom Koehler. “We’re running out of games. We feel like we need to win every single game, starting with games like tonight.”
The Marlins are running out of time, but contend they aren’t giving up.
“As long as there’s not a little ‘e’ (for eliminated) next to our name in the standings, we’ve got to come out and fight until they tell us we’re done,” Koehler said.
On a night when Giancarlo Stanton returned to the lineup for the first time in a month, the Marlins couldn’t get it done at the plate. They squandered scoring chances early, allowed a 2-0 lead melt in the sixth, and lost in the 13th on Jimmy Paredes bases-loaded single off reliever A.J. Ramos.
They stranded 15 runners and went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
“When you get to the root of it, we left a lot of people out there,” said manager Don Mattingly.
The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the fifth thanks to a fluky play in which Philadelphia starter Adam Morgan came close to colliding with Dee Gordon on a play at first. Gordon was called out. But after Mattingly went out to argue, umpires changed the call, awarding Gordon the bag on defensive obstruction.
RBI hits by Martin Prado and J.T. Realmuto followed.
But the lead failed to hold up. The Phillies came up with three runs in the sixth off Koehler and Mike Dunn, the first of eight relievers that Mattingly used in the four hour and 43 minute marathon.
Derek Dietrich tied it in the eighth with a two-out, pinch-hit homer.
In the 13th, the Phillies loaded the bases with one out. Mattingly employed an extra infielder, bringing in Marcell Ozuna from left to play third. But it didn’t matter.
Paredes singled to right, and the Marlins lost yet again.
“Every one is painful from the standpoint of you know where you’re at,” Mattingly said. “You have to think about winning absolutely every game. Every one hurts. That’s just the way it is this time of year. These kind kind of rip your heart out a little bit.”
The Marlins are at a point where series wins won’t be enough to get them to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. They need sweeps, plural.
“Obviously we’ve got to win a lot of games,” outfielder Christian Yelich said before the Marlins took the field Friday for the first of a three-game series against the Phillies. “But we can’t sweep the series if we don’t win the first game.”
But they didn’t do that with Friday’s loss.