Ozzie Guillen used a boxing analogy to illustrate how the Marlins have gone from good to bad in a flurry.
“When we were going good, our offense was good enough,” Guillen said shortly before the Marlins entered the ring against Tampa Bay on Friday. “When they punched us, we punched back. Now it seems when they punch us, we’re back on the ropes, trying to survive.”
Nothing changed at Tropicana Field.
State supremacy is no longer a question in Florida as the Rays whipped up on the Marlins in an 11-0, combined one-hitter. The reeling Marlins have now lost eight in a row to the Rays dating to last season, have lost nine of their past 10 games overall dating to June 5 and are back at .500 for the first time since May 8.
“Right now we throw the glove away,” Guillen said after the defeat.
During the 10-game stretch, the Marlins have been outscored 67-17.
“Right now it feels like we’re playing football, [giving up] one touchdown after another,” Guillen said.
For the second start in a row, Carlos Zambrano was knocked out in the third inning after throwing 78 pitches, issuing six walks and putting his team in a 4-0 hole that only grew deeper once he was gone.
Not that there is any comeback life in the Marlins’ lineup of late.
In their nine setbacks, which started with an 11-0 loss to the Braves, the Marlins have led for exactly one-half of one inning. On Friday, they mustered only one hit through the first eight innings. That hit, a first-inning single, belonged to Donovan Solano, a last-minute substitute.
Solano was hurried into the starting lineup after Hanley Ramirez, while working on his swing in the indoor cages at The Trop, was dazed by a batted ball that struck him in the nose. The bloodied third baseman was scratched.
And so it goes for the Marlins, who were in a virtual tie for first place after putting away the Phillies in Philadelphia on June 3 but now find themselves seven games out.
“Last week we were the best team in baseball,” Guillen said. “All of a sudden we’re the worst.’’
Zambrano not only started that June 3 game but also delivered a home run to boot. What made it even more impressive was that he was sick with the flu.
Since then, though, Zambrano has looked awful on the mound.
In his two outings post-Philadelphia — both against the Rays — Zambrano has looked the picture of un-health, failing to make it out of the third inning. He has thrown 135 pitches in the two brief starts, barely half of them (68) for strikes. On Friday, he walked four Rays batters in the second inning alone. After he gave up a leadoff single in the third, followed by a walk to Ben Zobrist, Zambrano was lifted.
“If you have to blame somebody, blame this one on me,” said Zambrano, who said he is not injured. “I was wild [Friday].”
The Marlins threatened only once against Matt Moore when they put two aboard in the first inning with one out. But, as has so often been the case, both were left stranded. Logan Morrison grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Omar Infante struck out.
“If we want to compete, we need to hit better,” Guillen said.
After the first, the Marlins managed only three baserunners, two on walks and the other on a Rays fielding error. It was the 10th time in franchise history they have been held to one hit or fewer (two no-hitters and eight one-hitters). One of the other one-hitters was turned in by Matt Garza, then with Tampa Bay, in 2008.
The Rays used three pitchers — Moore, Burke Badenhop and Brandon Gomes — in Friday’s one-hit performance.
Marlins reliever Sandy Rosario left Friday’s game with a right quad strain and will likely be placed on the disabled list. Guillen said the Marlins will probably call up reliever Chris Hatcher on Saturday.