Forget first place.
The Marlins’ franchise-long drought continued Saturday when they were officially eliminated from the National League East division race with an 8-0 loss to the Phillies.
It’s nothing new.
Despite two World Series crowns, the Marlins have failed to win their division in every one of their 24 seasons, same as their 1993 expansion sibling, the Colorado Rockies. The Pirates haven’t won their division since 1992.
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Only a couple of other pro franchises have suffered longer.
The NBA’s Charlotte franchise has never finished first in their 26 seasons. For the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, it’s been 24 consecutive seasons without a first-place finish.
Not that anyone was keeping track, but elimination was sealed quickly on Saturday when the Phillies pounded Jose Urena for seven runs in the opening two innings.
The Marlins put up no fight after that in dropping to 73-75 on the season — 15 games behind the Nationals with 14 to play.
Their wild-card hopes are pretty much shot, as well.
In his first start since coming within one out of a complete game, Urena failed to make it past the second as the Phillies lit him up for five runs in the first before adding two more in the second.
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, meanwhile, continued his dominance over the Marlins, throwing the second shutout of his career and first since May 13, 2011. In six starts against Miami this season, Hellickson has gone 3-1 with a 1.79 ERA.
The Marlins managed only three hits off Hellickson, who faced only three batters over the minimum while throwing 106 pitches.
“He just kind of shut us down all night,” said Christian Yelich, who bounced into double plays in his only two at-bats. “He just knows how to pitch. He mixes it up, in and out. Cutter. Sinker. Change-up. Curveball to get ahead early. It’s what he has been able to do.”
Mattingly said soft throwers such as Hellickson are most successful against young lineups such as the one belonging to the Marlins.
“Hellickson just kind of kept us off balance all day again,” Mattingly said. “He just continues to change speeds with us. As we look at our club, it’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of managing a game with a guy like that. It’s been an issue all year long. It’s an area where we’re going to have to get better if we’re going to take steps forward.”
The Phillies went to town early on Urena, who was coming off an outstanding outing in which he surrendered just four hits and held the Dodgers without a run over 8 2/3 innings.
He didn’t come close to that performance Saturday.
The Phillies jumped him for two runs almost instantly before loading the bases with two outs for A.J. Ellis, who lined a bases-clearing double down the line in left to make it 5-0.
“I thought the Ellis hit was huge,” Mattingly said. “If we can get out of that with two [runs], it’s at that point manageable.”
The Phillies scored twice more off Urena in the second, his final inning.
After that, it was all Hellickson, who cruised the rest of the way.
A leadoff single by Dee Gordon to start the game, fourth-inning single by Martin Prado, and seventh-inning double by Derek Dietrich were the only hits the Marlins managed off Hellickson.
Mattingly said a huge early deficit often sucks the life out of hitters.
“It’s not the same at-bats,” Mattingly said. “When you get down seven, you know it’s going to take numerous at-bats to get back in the game. And if you can’t mount that charge, guy after guy, it’s hard to take that up there. It’s a lot tougher when you’re down like that against a guy like [Hellickson].”