Whether it’s been dealing with an injury to a key player, a deficit or a stretch of tough losses, Mike Redmond said one of things he has admired most about his team during the first half of this season is how much fight they have shown.
The Marlins are going to need to dig really deep to find more of that Sunday. After all, the gas tank has to be close to running on empty.
On Saturday night, the Marlins lost yet another 14-inning marathon — their second in three days — falling in heartbreaking fashion to the visiting Oakland Athletics 7-6 at Marlins Park. It took 4 hours 47 minutes to complete, the longest game of the season for Miami.
“You play 13 innings, 14 innings and you don’t win, it takes a toll on you for sure, no doubt,” Redmond said.
The Athletics scored the winning run after a two-out rally against Jacob Turner in the 14th. Brandon Moss doubled to left-center and then scored on Josh Donaldson’s single back up the middle.
The Marlins loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the frame. But reliever Jeff Francis came on and picked up the save, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia looking and getting Donovan Solano to fly out to right to end the game.
Saturday’s game marked the sixth time since June 6 — a span of 21 games — that the Marlins have played extra innings.
Five of those extra-inning games have gone at least 13 innings, and the Marlins haven’t won any of them.
“[We] battle and [we] come back and just can’t seem to get that big hit or make that great play,” Redmond said. “Or we make a mistake. Whatever it is, whatever happens, we’re just not able to do that enough to get on the other end of these.”
The Marlins’ bullpen, already exhausted, has logged 20 innings of work over the past three days.
After the game, the Marlins sent starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani down to Triple A New Orleans, and Redmond said they would make a corresponding move Sunday to bring in more pitching depth.
“We need that off day to come soon,” Redmond said.
Trailing by one run in the ninth, the Marlins forced extra innings by ending Sean Doolittle’s major league-leading scoreless streak at 26 2/3 innings.
Doolittle had retired 40 of the previous 41 batters he had faced before Giancarlo Stanton ripped a double to left with one out. Stanton scored moments later when Casey McGehee singled to center.
For the second day in a row, the Marlins fell behind 4-0 early and fought back to take a 5-4 lead. On Friday, the bullpen coughed up the lead in the eighth, surrendered five runs and the Marlins lost. On Saturday, the pen kept the Marlins in it.
The Athletics, who own baseball’s best record at 50-30, jumped all over Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi in the opening frame. Oakland sent all nine to the plate and scored four runs on five hits.
The Marlins answered by sending nine to the plate and scoring three runs in the second against A’s starter Sonny Gray, including a two-run double by Reed Johnson. Miami then tied it on Stanton’s 60th RBI of the season and took the lead when Garrett Jones grounded out to first with the bases loaded in the fourth.
Stanton, who also drew his 15th intentional walk of the season Saturday to tie David Ortiz for the major-league lead, became only the fourth Marlins player to record at least 20 homers and 60 RBI before the All-Star break, joining Mike Lowell, Gary Sheffield and Cliff Floyd.
Eovaldi settled down and gritted his way through a much-needed seven innings on a season-high 113 pitches. But he couldn’t protect the lead.
Oakland tied it in the fifth on a strange play. After Eovaldi struck out Brandon Moss swinging, the ball ended up in the dirt and Saltalamacchia was forced to throw to first for the out. The speedy Coco Crisp ended up breaking for home on the throw and beat Jones’ throw back to the plate.
“It will all come around; that’s just how baseball is,” Eovaldi said of the Marlins’ struggles. “We’ve got to do a better job of the small things. I just feel like that’s what it comes down to.”
• Center fielder Marcell Ozuna left Saturday’s game shortly after flying out to left field in the seventh inning with what he said was a right hamstring cramp. Ozuna said afterward that he was fine and expected to be in the lineup Sunday.
• After 81 games, the Marlins (39-42) are without question a better team than they were at the midway point last year.
The 2013 Marlins were 30-51, 17 1/2 games out of first place and were hitting .232 with 47 homers, 263 runs scored and a 3.86 ERA. These Marlins are four games back and are hitting .254 with 71 homers, 351 runs scored and a 3.88 ERA.