Don Mattingly hasn’t done the research.
But, instinctively, Mattingly feels the Marlins would have won more games this season had they found a way to tack on runs late in games.
A lot more.
“We probably would have won another 10 games this year if we were able to just tack on that one or two [more runs] during the course of the game,” Mattingly said. “I think that’s hurt us as much as anything this year.”
Heading into their series opener against the Padres on Friday night, the Marlins had played a franchise-record 17 games in a row that were decided by three runs or less. That’s the longest such stretch of close games by any team in the majors this season. The Marlins have gone 8-9 during that stretch.
“The inability to tack on runs has been a problem all year long for us,” Mattingly said. “And that, to me, is the reason why we’re not winning those [close] ones. I think that’s typical of a younger club. All of a sudden we’ve got guys who want to be heroes instead of just getting on base.”
Mattingly said that’s what separates teams like the Giants and Royals from the rest.
“They’re getting on base and they win it by getting two hits or stealing a bag,” Mattingly said of teams that are able to manufacture runs. “It’s not always the guy who’s going to hit the homer that’s going to be the hero. It’s going to be the guy who got walked.”
Mattingly said it’s all part of the learning process with a young team.
“It feels like that’s happened a lot,” Mattingly said. “Maybe I’m wrong. But it just feels like that.”
A.J. Ramos would prefer to close, his role before a finger injury landed him on the disabled list in early August. But he’s not going to complain about it if he doesn’t.
“Being selfish, I would say, yeah, I want to close,” said Ramos, who hasn’t appeared in a save situation since returning from the DL. “But the main thing is to win. I want to get to the playoffs, and that’s the most important thing right now.”
Fernando Rodney has saved all eight Marlins wins since Aug. 7. Yet Mattingly isn’t prepared to declare one or the other as his closer.
“We’ve talked about it, but I haven’t really made any plans to go one way or the other,” Mattingly said.
But Mattingly acknowledged that he likes that Ramos can pitch multiple innings if necessary, a signal that he will continue to use him in late-inning setup situations.
“A.J. wants to be a closer,” Mattingly said. “But, more than that, he wants to win.”
Mattingly said he understands that saves are a component of determining salaries through arbitration, and that Ramos — who is heading toward his second year of salary arbitration — could stand to lose financially as a result.
“But when guys put that aside because they want to win, you know you’ve got something good going,” Mattingly said.
“And that’s really what you have with A.J.”
Ramos noted that Rodney didn’t complain when his role changed from closer to setup relief after the Marlins acquired him in a trade with the Padres.
“So that’s setting an example,” Ramos said. “He didn’t complain about anything. He just went out and did his job.
“You kind of learn from that. I took that and said, well, I’m going not going to [complain].”
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (2-4, 6.33 ERA) vs. San Diego Padres LHP Clayton Richard (0-3, 4.44), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Andrew Cashner (4-10, 4.73) vs. Padres RHP Luis Perdomo (6-7, 6.24), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.