Could the grind of battling back into the playoff race be taking a toll on the Marlins’ lineup?
Christian Yelich refuses to make excuses.
But he and his teammates mustered a mere four hits that produced only one run in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat in 12 innings against the lowly Phillies at Marlins Park.
“It’s been a tough stretch for us, but everybody is feeling the same way,” Yelich said. “It’s September for all the teams. You can’t use that as an excuse. You just have to go out there and do your job, which we haven’t been doing.”
Giancarlo Stanton is having a historic season with 52 home runs so far, and he’s on pace to record 10 more, which would place him in elite company among the sport’s best.
Marcell Ozuna’s second All-Star season has seen him hit 32 home runs of his own.
Yelich has bounced back after a slow start and blasted another 16.
That’s 100 home runs from the Marlins’ starting outfield.
From July 21 through last Sunday, the Marlins went 24-12 and trimmed their deficit in the Wild Card standings from 12 games to only 4 1/2 during that stretch.
That gap would be even smaller had the Marlins not lost six of their last seven (including three of four to the Phillies), with the Rockies losing five of six during that same span. And during the recent slump, both the Brewers and Cardinals have leapt ahead of the Marlins in the standings.
With key bats such as Justin Bour and Martin Prado still on the disabled list, the Marlins have needed to rely on virtually the same core of its lineup throughout its recent playoff push.
“I wish I could [pinpoint what’s wrong],” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly when asked about the recent hitting woes. “Are we playing guys too much because we’ve been running our outfielders out there every day? They don’t get any rest. You keep pushing them, so is it that? Or is it just a little stretch we’re going through? We’re just not swinging the bats.”
Since July 21, Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna have each started 42 of 43 games.
Dee Gordon was held out of the lineup Sunday in order to give him some rest despite having recorded seven consecutive multi-hit games — one shy of a club record. Gordon, who is hitting .500 during that span, has started 39 games since July 21 and appeared in two others.
After a record-setting month that earned him National League Player of the Month honors for the third time in his career, Stanton has gone 2 for 25 at the plate over the past seven games, with home runs on both hits while drawing five walks.
Stanton went 0 for 3 with a pair of walks Sunday and remained at 52 homers for the season. Stanton remains on pace to hit 62.
Ozuna has gone 8 for 29 (.276), with a home run and five RBI after going 0 for 5 on Sunday.
J.T. Realmuto did not start Sunday after going 4 for 24 (.167) over the past week.
Yelich is one of the few that has kept the pace, going 11 of 29 (.379) with a homer, double, triple and two RBI.
“Obviously we have time left, but there’s a sense of urgency,” Yelich said. “You need to win all of them you can. You’ve got to flush this series and start back fresh tomorrow.”
▪ The Marlins’ bullpen combined to pitch four scoreless innings before the Phillies secured victory on the strength of a two-run single by Nick Williams in the top of the 12th off Junichi Tazawa.
▪ Playing in his third career game, Anderson hit his first major-league double and scored in the fifth inning on a wild pitch by Phillies starter Jake Thompson.
▪ Jose Urena couldn’t record his 13th win but delivered another quality start. Urena threw seven innings, allowed six hits and only one run while surrendering one walk and striking out three.
▪ Ichiro Suzuki’s pinch-hit appearance Sunday gave him 84 such at-bats this season, setting a new MLB single-season record previously set by former Marlin Lenny Harris in 2001.
Monday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (6-6, 5.02 ERA) vs. Washington Nationals (TBA), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Tuesday: Marlins RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (0-2, 4.13) vs. Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (11-4, 2.90), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.