Miami Marlins

Gruesome road trip ends with walk-off loss for Marlins

Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis during the sixth inning a baseball game in Cleveland, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.
Miami Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis during the sixth inning a baseball game in Cleveland, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. AP

Fernando Rodney was in no mood to eat.

Rodney picked at a sweet potato and swallowed a few bites of steak before lifting his plate, returning it to the clubhouse kitchen and throwing it into the trash before heading into the showers.

In the pin-drop quiet of the Marlins’ clubhouse, following as devastating a loss as any this season, no one spoke.

Players ate their postgame meals with heads lowered or sat at their lockers staring out at nothing.

The simple score was Indians 6, Marlins 5.

But this loss for the Marlins was as impactful of any.

“This one stung,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

After the Marlins had taken a 5-3 lead with two runs in the top of the ninth, Rodney gave it all back — and more — in a nightmarish collapse in which he walked three before giving up two huge hits that scored the tying and winning runs.

The imaginary arrow that Rodney fires when he closes out a win pierced him instead on Sunday.

“Some days you’re going to get there, one-two-three,” Rodney said. “Some days you’re going to take longer [to close out the win]. Some days are going to be tough. So today for me is tough.”

Was it ever.

Rodney walked the first two batters in the ninth on eight pitches, retired the next two, walked another to load the bases, and then surrendered a two-run single to Jose Ramirez and a walk-off single to Lonnie Chisenhall.

Game over. It could be season over for the Marlins if they don’t start winning — and soon.

Sunday’s loss capped off a dismal 1-6 trip while adding more suffering to a disastrous stretch in which they’ve lost 21 of their past 32 games.

“That kind of game ends a really bad trip for us,” Mattingly said. “It’s a tough one to take.”

The Marlins (68-69) dropped below .500 for the first time since April 28, when they were 10-11.

“We’ve still got a lot of baseball left,” said Marlins starter Tom Koehler, who did all he could to prevent a sweep by delivering six shutout innings. “We’ve got to turn it around. We’ve got to move past this.”

Until Rodney’s massive meltdown, it looked like the Marlins would salvage a little something from the series and return home in a buoyant mood despite a rough trip.

With the score tied 3-3, Miguel Rojas doubled to lead off the ninth and Ichiro Suzuki pulled a 0-2 pitch from Andrew Miller into the right-field corner for an RBI double that put the Marlins on top.

Martin Prado added some insurance later in the inning with a run-scoring sacrifice fly.

Koehler turned in those six shutout innings and was in line for the win. He came out with a 1-0 lead, and the Marlins made it 2-0 in the seventh on Prado’s two-out RBI single.

But the bullpen couldn’t hold it.

The Indians scored three runs in the seventh off Kyle Barraclough, with Jason Kipnis delivering the go-ahead hit, a two-out single that scored two and put Cleveland on top, 3-2.

J.T. Realmuto evened it up in the eighth with his ninth home run, a solo shot off Indians reliever Bryan Shaw, and the Marlins scored two more runs in the ninth to set up the victory.

But it didn’t come about.

Rodney was one out away from stepping off the tightrope and onto safe ground. But he couldn’t get Ramirez, who singled to left for a two-run hit that tied the score.

And then Chisenhall provided the dagger with his game-winning hit.

“I [thought] when had I had two outs, I had everything in hand,” Rodney said. “But the ball goes in the other direction.”

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