Recent struggles with clutch hitting cost the Marlins another opportunity to ascend in the Wild Card standings.
The Marlins were two-for-14 with runners in scoring position and lost the opener of a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 on Thursday night. The loss was Miami’s fourth straight following a three-game sweep at NL Eastern Division leading Washington in a series that ended Wednesday.
“We’ve just been leaving a lot of chances and we’re not getting the hit right now,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Just a bad time right now.”
No better example of the Marlins’ lack of timely hits occurred in the ninth. Phillies closer Hector Neris hit pinch hitter Mike Aviles with the first pitch he threw to start the inning and Dee Gordon followed with a single to left.
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Neris recovered and retired Giancarlo Stanton on a fly to medium center and Phillies leftfielder Hyun Soo Kim dived and caught Christian Yelich’s sinking line drive for the second out. Marcell Ozuna walked before Neris struck out J.T. Realmuto with the bases loaded to end the game.
Stanton went 0-for-5 and struck out twice. The Marlins slugger is 1-for-15 the past four games. As a result, Stanton finished the month with 18 home runs, keeping him tied with Rudy York of the 1937 Detroit Tigers for most homers in August.
“We had our chances all game,” Mattingly said.
Another opportunity was wasted in the eighth as Derek Dietrich scored from first on two apparent Phillies throwing errors. But home plate umpire Brian Gorman called pinch hitter Tomas Telis out for baserunner interference when he ran inside the baseline as Philadelphia reliever Luis Garcia attempted to throw him out on at first a short dribbler. Dietrich was forced to return to first and Miguel Rojas ended the inning on a force out.
“I was trying to run hard,” Telis said. “I don’t know why he called that because the ball didn’t hit me. First time that happened to me.”
Marlins starter Odrisamer Despaigne (0-2) couldn’t protect an early 1-0 advantage and gave up the lead on opposing pitcher Ben Lively’s go-ahead two-run single that highlighted a three run fourth. Despaigne is now winless since 2015.
“I tried to throw him a slider and left it up,” said Despaigne, who lasted only four innings. “Unfortunately, it’s the pitcher. It’s stuff that happens.”
Propelled by a 49-36 record since May 28 prior to Thursday’s opener, the Marlins moved to within 4 ½ games behind second wild card Colorado after a three-game series sweep of San Diego Padres Sunday.
The losing skid at Washington soured what had been an enjoyable summer run and the Marlins (66-67) fell six games behind the Rockies. The Marlins also dropped below .500 for the first time since August 23.