Lack of run production hindered the Marlins throughout 2016.
It’s become a recurring problem again of late.
And on Thursday night, it cost the Marlins again as they dropped their third game in four nights to the Rays, 5-1, at Tropicana Field.
The Marlins (12-15) lost for the seventh time in their past nine games.
Aside from a pair of 10-run outputs that led to their two wins during that stretch, the Marlins have scored two runs or less in six of those defeats.
“Everybody’s going out there playing hard,” Dee Gordon said. “It just seems like nothing is going for us. We just kind of have to weather the storm.”
The Marlins had seven hits, but went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and leaving 10 on base included.
“We got to make sure our focus is good every day and our energy is good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “But for the most part, I’m not really overly concerned. I like my club and I’m confident that we’re going to play better than this and we’re going to get more consistent than this.”
Gordon’s two-out RBI single in the ninth prevented the Marlins from getting blanked for the second time in less than a week.
"We have to continue fighting hard and keep playing hard," Gordon said. "It’s a long season and there will peaks and valleys. This is a valley and we can’t let it consume us."
Shortstop Tim Beckham hit a pair of two-run home runs off of starter Dan Straily that gave the Rays a 4-0 lead and stood as their only two hits through the first four innings.
Straily only gave up three hits but walked five, matching a season-high and Beckham made him pay for two of those. Straily threw 109 pitches, a season-high for a Marlins’ starter, and struck out three.
"Today the stuff I had to compete with I didn’t have as much command," Straily said. "But at the same time there’s no excuse for that. I have to find a way to get more outs more efficient outs with what I have each day."
After leading off the second inning with a walk, Straily induced a couple of ground outs, but left a fastball high to Beckham that he drove 410 feet to left center to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, Straily walked Colby Rasmus with two outs. Beckham followed that by sending a ball 414 feet to the stands in roughly the same area.
"The whole game came down to one or two pitches for me," Straily said. "It goes to show that you never know how that’s going to affect the game. It’s very frustrating. I keep beating myself by handing out free bases and tonight it hurt me."
Straily walked two more batters and committed an error on a bouncer he bobbled near the mound that allowed Tampa Bay to load the bases. But he induced a ground out from Kevin Kiermaier to end the inning. Straily was looked at briefly by Marlins’ trainer Dustin Luepker after the play in which he made the error, but remained in the game. Straily said postgame he suffered no physical issue.
▪ Jose Urena pitched a scoreless inning in relief Thursday, but threw only six pitches. Mattingly has not yet named a starting pitcher for Sunday in what would have been Edinson Volquez’s turn in the rotation, but had previously mentioned Urena as a possibility.
When asked if he might still start Sunday, Mattingly responded: “It means he’s still a candidate. He hasn’t been eliminated from the GOP race. So he’s in there still.”