The Marlins have endured their share of heartbreaking losses over the years. But they’ve probably never experienced an entire series as numbing as the one that took place at SunTrust Park against the Braves.
For the third time in four agonizing days, the Marlins on Sunday were stunned by the Braves in walk-off fashion. Lane Adams’ two-run homer in the 11th off Vance Worley gave Atlanta a 10-8 victory.
“I’ve seen some ugly games,” Worley said. “But we’re better than what we’re doing out there.”
The Marlins lost Thursday on a game-ending hit in the ninth.
They lost Saturday on a bases-loaded, game-ending walk in the ninth.
But Sunday’s extra-innings gut punch took the cake.
And it came against a familiar nemesis. The Braves have dominated the Marlins this season, winning 10 of their 15 meetings. Not only that, but of Atlanta’s nine walk-off wins this season, five have come at the expense of the Marlins.
“This has just been one place that’s been frustrating all year,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We just don’t seem to hold a lead with these guys. They’ve walked us off two times the last time we were here, three times this series. They’ve been a thorn, that’s for sure.”
As they had in the other two losses, the Marlins enjoyed an early lead only to have it unravel on them late. Sunday’s setback was even more pronounced. The Marlins took an 8-5 lead into the ninth when the Braves struck for three runs off the Marlins’ depleted bullpen.
Neither Jarlin Garcia nor Javy Guerra, who tried to come to his rescue, were able to record the final out needed to preserve the win. Rio Ruiz’s two-out, two-run single off Guerra sent the game into extra innings.
Mattingly’s options were limited at that point. Closer Brad Ziegler is dealing with a back injury that made him unavailable. Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider were also off-limits because of recent usage.
Barraclough had thrown 20 pitches Saturday, including the four-pitch walk to Ender Inciarte with the bases loaded that brought about defeat. Steckenrider, a rookie, had appeared in each of the three previous games.
“We’ve used them up,” Mattingly said of his top relievers. “The guys we had out there were the guys we had available.”
Still, Mattingly said he “felt good” about the Marlins’ three-run lead in the ninth, no matter who was on the mound for them. And the Marlins had displayed some fight by recovering from a 5-3 deficit to tie the game in the fifth before taking the lead on Dee Gordon’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth.
The Marlins added two more runs in the ninth to make it 8-5, and it looked as if they would get out of Atlanta with a series split of their four games. But it fell apart in the ninth when Garcia gave up a pair of hits and walked a batter.
Guerra took over with two outs and a two-run lead but gave up a game-tying single to Ruiz.
In the 11th, Worley gave up a one-out single to Tyler Flowers before serving up a home run on the first pitch to Adams.
It was the first time since 1930 that the Braves produced three walk-off wins in a single series, back when they were the Boston Braves.
“It’s been rough here this year,” Mattingly said. “We’ve had our chances. We’ve had leads in a bunch of games here but just have not been able to hold on to them.”
The Marlins have now lost 12 of their past 14 games, going from 63-60 on Aug. 27 to a record of 68-75. Sunday’s loss locked up the National League East title for the Washington Nationals.
▪ Giancarlo Stanton just missed hitting his 55th home run when his line drive blast in the ninth struck a rise in the brick wall in center, about two or three feet to the right of being a home run.
▪ Ziegler underwent a MRI on his back on Saturday. He described the injury as an irritated ligament in his lower back.
▪ Monday: Off.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins LHP Dillon Peters (0-1, 2.25 ERA) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Nick Pivetta (5-10, 6.49), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (9-8, 3.95) at Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.71), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.