Think in twos for Sunday’s Marlins 3-1 loss to San Diego at Marlins Park.
Loss No. 2 of the three-game home set against the abysmal Padres. A losing margin of two runs. The game took two hours and 36 minutes. The Marlins left two runners on base because, most notably, they hit into a franchise-record six double plays.
Everybody did their part. Take the most unlikely double play — top-of-the-order Dee Gordon grounded into a 4-6-3 double play after pitcher Justin Nicolino led off the Marlins’ third with a single.
Heck, the first Marlins outs of the day came as a pair, with Martin Prado hitting into a double play after Gordon singled up the middle.
San Diego starting pitcher Luis Perdomo, who threw only 99 pitches for his first career complete game, did a two-for by himself when he snapped up an Ichiro Suzuki line drive with J.T. Realmuto about 30 percent of the way to second base.
The teams combined for seven double plays, one short of the National League record set in 1928 by the Boston Braves and Chicago Cubs. Those Cubs were a generation past Tinker to Evers to Chance. San Diego is several generations past 1976 Cy Young-winning ground-ball factory Randy Jones. Sunday was remindful of both.
San Diego shortstop Luis Sardinas, second baseman Ryan Schimpf and first baseman Yangervis Solarte worked together as a trio for three of the double plays. Sardinas and Solarte turned one by themselves. Adam Rosales combined with Schimpf and Solarte for one.
And the stream of turf huggers off Marlins’ bats gave them every chance.
“[Perdomo] commanded his sinker well, got us to ground out. Hats off to him,” Gordon said. “He pitched a good game, mixed it up well and kept us off balance.”
Only pair of doubles — there are those twos again — by Realmuto and Xavier Scruggs produced anything on the scoreboard for the Marlins.
Aside from scoring five runs in the last three innings of Friday night’s walk-off 7-6 comeback win, the home team managed only three runs in 24 innings against a staff ranked 10th in the National League in ERA and ninth in batting average allowed.
For last week’s homestand, in which they lost four of six to Kansas City and San Diego, the Marlins were shut out twice and scored only 13 runs in six games. Again, subtract the five against Friday’s collapsing Padres bullpen and only eight Marlins runs remain in the other 51 innings or 1.41 per nine innings.
That didn’t leave much wiggle room for Nicolino, called up from the minors on Saturday when the team determined Andrew Cashner’s finger blister required he miss a start.
“It was nice to go six [innings] and throw 100 pitches,” Nicolino said. “I felt good. I just didn’t make the pitches with two outs I needed to.”
In the fourth, Alex Dickerson’s ground-rule double and a triple by Schimpf tied the game at 1-1. With two outs, Sardinas knocked in Rosales after the latter stole second under the tag of Gordon. In the sixth, Nicolino hit Schimpf, saw him advance to second on a wild pitch and gave up an RBI single to Sardinas.
“We just have to find a way to get better,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “More hit and run. Maybe I need to do something differently as far as putting guys in motion, things like that to try to generate some offense. It’s hard to move Dee or Martin or [Christian Yelich] around. At this point, your lineup’s been thinned a little bit and you don’t have a whole lot of choices.
“I think we’ve been fairly fortunate that these teams around us in the wild-card race have let us stay in it. We’re four games over .500, so that means we’ve been under .500 since the [All-Star] break. It’s hard to expect that you’d still be in a race playing under-.500 baseball at this point, but the fact is we are in a race.”
A race that continues Monday night in New York against the Mets.