The Marlins have become road kill.
When they head out of town, bad things happen. After being swept by the lowly Phillies in Philadelphia, they continued along their un-merry way Monday in Arizona, where they were flattened 3-1 by the Diamondbacks.
It was their 14th loss in their past 16 road games, and put them within striking range of a franchise record for futility. The 1998 Marlins went 23-58 on the road for a .284 win percentage.
These Marlins own a road mark of 14-32 (.304).
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“I don’t know the answer to it,” said Marlins manager Dan Jennings. “It’s very frustrating. This is a better ballclub than that. But the struggles on the road have really been a factor in our record right now, where we are.”
Then again, as Marlins starter David Phelps was quick to point out: “Have we been great at home? Regardless of where we’re playing, we’ve got to win ball games.”
On Tuesday, the Marlins bounced into four double plays — two of them coming off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarria — as Arizona starter Rubby De La Rosa had Miami eating dirt.
Of the 21 outs recorded by De La Rosa, 18 were the result of ground balls.
“Double plays were definitely a nemesis tonight,” Jennings said. “When you ground into four plays, it kills your momentum. That was the difference.”
It’s turning into that kind of long season for the Marlins, who were expected to be much better but are proving to be a huge disappointment.
They hit poorly with runners in scoring position, and Monday’s loss provided another example of one of the team’s biggest flaws. After the Marlins loaded the bases in the first, Hechavarria bounced into an inning-ending double play.
It was a harbinger of things to come.
De La Rosa also induced double play grounders in the fifth (Ichiro Suzuki), sixth (Hechavarria again) and seventh innings (Cole Gillespie).
“We loaded the bases twice. We had men on with opportunities,” Jennings said. “We just couldn’t get the hit, especially with two outs.”
The Marlins’ only run came on Derek Dietrich’s solo homer off De La Rosa in the seventh. Dietrich’s ball hit the top of the wall in right and bounced over.
The Diamondbacks did most of their damage in the third off Phelps, who nearly wiggled out of a jam — and felt that he probably should have — before finally succumbing.
After Nick Ahmed tripled to start the inning, Phelps struck out De La Rosa, got Ender Inciarte to ground out to a drawn-in infield, and thought he had struck out A.J. Pollock on a borderline two-strike pitch that was called a ball. That would have ended the inning.
“I thought it was a strike,” Phelps said.
But Pollock ended up walking, as did Paul Goldschmidt, loading the bases for David Peralta.
“When you’ve got guys on with (Goldschmidt) up, it’s always better to face the guy after him,” Phelps said. “It’s a great plan until it’s not.”
And it turned out it wasn’t when Peralta singled to left to drive in two runs.
De La Rosa helped his own cause in the sixth when he delivered a RBI single with two outs off Phelps to make it 3-0.
“We couldn’t deliver with two outs and they did,” Jennings said.