So desperate are the Marlins for even an ounce of life at the plate that manager Dan Jennings gave Derek Dietrich — an infielder — his first big league start in the outfield on Sunday.
The Marlins were held to four hits -- none belonging to Dietrich -- in what was a 3-2 defeat to the Padres, wasting yet another decent outing by their starting pitcher. In Sunday’s case, that was Mat Latos, who made what was very likely his final start as a Marlin.
With the trade deadline looming on Friday, Latos should be gone before he gets another chance to take the mound in a Miami uniform. If Sunday’s defeat was his swan song, Latos didn’t go out moaning about the lack of run support that has plagued the rest of the rotation, as well.
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Latos refused to place blame on the lineup for Sunday’s demise. Instead, he put it squarely on himself.
“I didn’t pitch well enough to win,” Latos said. “Pitch a shutout, and you’ve got a chance to win a ball game. I gave up three runs. We scored two. Technically, we scored enough to win a ball game.”
That’s not to say Latos was at his best against the Padres. He wasn’t.
Justin Upton tagged a solo homer off Latos in the second before the Padres added one more run later in the inning. He left after giving up three runs over six innings.
But it was the third straight game in which the Marlins starters -- Dan Haren on Friday, David Phelps on Saturday and Latos on Sunday -- all lasted six innings and gave up three runs or fewer.
The Marlins scored all of four runs in those games, closing out a 3-7 road trip that ended pretty much as it began: badly.
On Sunday, the top six hitters in the lineup combined to go 0 for 21, and the Marlins didn’t get their first hit off Padres starter Odrisamer Despaigne until J.T. Realmuto singled to lead off the fifth.
Despaigne brought an unremarkable 3-7 record and 4.98 ERA into his start Sunday.
But a Marlins lineup that is sorely missing All-Stars Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon could do little with him.
“It’s been tough for us to score runs lately for a while,” Realmuto said, acknowledging that the absence of Stanton and Gordon has been a “huge” impact on the to team’s scoring troubles. “You’ve got your biggest run producer and your biggest guy who gets on base. It makes it tough to score runs.”
Realmuto was involved in both of the Marlins runs on Sunday, scoring from third on Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice fly in the fifth and homering with none aboard in the seventh.
Gordon could return from the disabled list as early as Tuesday depending on how he looks in a minor-league rehab game Monday in Jupiter. Stanton look to be about two weeks away from returning from the DL.
But just as those two players are close to returning, the injury bug continues to bite the Marlins.
While making a diving stop and then throwing out a runner while on his back, shortstop Miguel Rojas injured his right shoulder on the play and is listed as day to day.
And so the Marlins head home from a post-All Star road trip in which they are in worse shape now than they were before, and with the immediate prospect of two starters -- Latos and Haren -- being traded before Friday.
It’s not a pretty picture, in other words.