Scoring runs late in games has been a problem for the Marlins recently, and it cost them again Tuesday night.
Miami scored four runs in the first five innings yet couldn’t put the host Twins away and lost 6-4 on a two-run homer by Brian Dozier with two outs in the 11th inning.
Of the Marlins’ past 13 games going into Wednesday’s second night of their three-game series at Target Field, Miami has scored runs in the seventh inning or later in only five of them. Two of those runs, coming June 1 against the Pirates and May 25 against the Rays, proved to be the difference.
“It’s always a concern if your club isn’t doing something,” manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday. “You always look to see how you can get better. We’re going to keep working. It was a common theme last year, so we have to keep working on our approach.”
On Tuesday, Miami took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth, only to see Robbie Grossman homer off David Phelps to tie it up.
The Marlins, after scoring single runs in four of the first five innings, did themselves no favors in the later frames. They put just two runners in scoring position from the sixth inning on, with Martin Prado and Ichiro Suzuki both getting to second with two outs.
Prado was stranded in the seventh when Christian Yelich struck out swinging. Ichiro stole second on Yelich’s strikeout for the second out of the 10th, but he was stranded when Giancarlo Stanton went down swinging.
“A lot of times, it’s just being a young club and everyone being excited and wanting to be the guy who drives in the run,” Mattingly said.
The Marlins got a good start Tuesday from Adam Conley, who pitched into the seventh, handing the game over to Phelps with two outs in the inning.
In the eighth, Eduardo Nunez (who homered twice off Conley) drove one to the wall in right before Grossman tied it.
In the eighth, Nunez (who homered twice off Conley) drove one to the wall in right before Grossman tied it.
“Anytime you have the lead, you want to close the door at the end of the game,” Mattingly said afterward. “They sting a little bit. We just weren’t able to add on and those are the kind of games we’ve been playing. We’re in one-run games and we haven’t left ourselves a lot of room for error.”
Reliever Dustin McGowan came in to pitch the 11th and walked the first two batters he faced although Grossman was thrown out attempting to take second for the first out.
With two outs and first base open, McGowan pitched to Dozier — who is now 4 for 6 against McGowan with two homers and three RBI. Dozier came into Wednesday hitting just .211.
“Dozier is batting a buck-eighty against righties, I know he’s a good player, but…,” Mattingly said. “I’m not trying to disrespect [Dozier] but McGowan has been good. He just put a pitch on the wrong part of the plate.”
IT’S DRAFT DAY
The Marlins have the seventh overall pick in Thursday’s amateur draft, but in a muddled draft lacking buzz and a no-brainer No. 1 selection, it’s anyone’s guess which player they will grab.
“For us at [number] 7, there’s really no telling who we’re going to get,” said Stan Meek, the Marlins’ vice president of scouting.
“I would say this is probably one of the more unpredictable top-of-the-drafts I’ve seen. There is probably not as much total upside at the top of this draft as there’s been at some other drafts.”
Given the dearth of top prospects in the minors, the Marlins can use all the help they can to replenish their depleted farm system. They’ve traded off so much of their young talent the past few years — including former first-rounders Andrew Heaney, Colin Moran and Matt Dominguez — that very little remains, especially at the upper levels.
“To replenish what we need to get and what we lost, it’s really critical,” Meek said. “We don’t want to make any mistakes.”
Beyond their top selection, though, the Marlins will be idle on the draft’s first day, which goes two rounds and includes both compensatory and competitive balance picks.
They gave up their competitive balance pick (No. 40 overall) in last year’s salary dump at the trade deadline, in which they unloaded Michael Morse and Mat Latos in a three-way exchange with the Dodgers and Braves.
And they forfeited their second-round pick when they signed Wei-Yin Chen.
After making the seventh overall pick, the Marlins don’t have another selection until pick No. 84 on the draft’s second day Friday.
▪ After going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts Tuesday, Stanton was dropped back to fifth in the lineup with Marcel Ozuna moving into the cleanup slot.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-6, 4.50 ERA) at Minnesota Twins RHP Ervin Santana (1-5, 4.50), 8:10 p.m., Target Field.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (2-3, 4.37) at Arizona Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (3-5, 4.73), 9:40 p.m., Chase Field.
Miami Herald sportswriter Clark Spencer contributed to this report.