Imagine a make-believe world, one in which the Atlanta Braves hadn’t become the Marlins’ worst nightmare. Instead of losing time after time to a last-place team that owns the worst record in the National League, the Marlins would hold the upper hand.
Instead of going 6-10 against the Braves, they would be 10-6.
And instead of sitting four games back in a wild-card race that is all-but-mathematically hopeless for them, they would be in the thick of the battle at seven games above .500.
But this is the real world, and after losing yet again to the Braves on Thursday night, a 6-3 cakewalk for Atlanta, the Marlins were left scratching their heads over the illogic of it.
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“It’s hard to explain,” Marlins third baseman Martin Prado said.
Said Jeff Francoeur, who was with the Braves earlier in the season when they were beating the Marlins and came to Miami in a trade in August: “It’s weird sometimes. I remember all those years when I was with Atlanta, we were winning the divisions … we would beat the Mets, we’d beat the Marlins, and the Nationals — remember how bad they were? — they would beat us all the time. Sometimes teams just have your number.”
The Marlins were manhandled for seven innings by Josh Collmenter, who recently became the 16th starting pitcher used this season by the Braves, Matt Kemp crushed a pair of homers, and Miami went quietly into the night.
As they have most of the season against Atlanta.
No matter the outcome of their remaining three contests, the Braves wrapped up the season series with their latest triumph over the Marlins, who fell to 76-77 and could be facing a seventh consecutive losing season, the longest drought in the majors.
“You can get beat by anybody in this league,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They’re not a team that hasn’t beaten anybody. They just swept the Mets. They’ve got a club that’s on the move and going in the right direction.”
At least Jose Urena managed to make it through three innings, which was one more than he lasted in his previous start in Philadelphia when he was yanked after an underwhelming two.
Urena gave up a quick run in the first inning before the Braves polished him off in the third on a pair of two-out hits that each produced two runs. The first was a Freddie Freeman single. The second was Kemp’s first homer of the night.
Kemp’s second homer came off Mike Dunn in the sixth.
J.T. Realmuto walloped a solo shot into the Budweiser Bar in deep left-center, giving him a career-high 11 homers.
But the Marlins sputtered otherwise. They didn’t do much of anything against Collmenter, the sort of soft thrower who has given the Marlins fits all season. Collmenter held the Marlins to two runs on five hits over seven innings.
“You get a guy that’s got a lot of changeups, a lot of off-speed [pitches], and those guys you have to be patient,” Mattingly said. “I think it has been the kind of guy that’s given us trouble this year. But it is an area that I think we have to grow, as far as we handle guys like that.”
The Marlins have only nine games remaining and their situation is beyond bleak.
“We have to find a way to snap out of it because we have to win the next three,” Francoeur said of the remainder of the Atlanta series. “There’s no more room for error.”