A bad hop here. A bad pitch there. A bad couple of days all around at Coors Field for the Marlins, who all but shot themselves in the foot over the weekend in Colorado, dropping two out of three to the last-place Rockies.
Needing every win they can to maintain what little hope they have of securing a wild-card playoff spot, the Marlins instead looked like a team that isn’t ready for prime time, not talented enough to play in October.
“Obviously it didn’t go the way that we were hoping for it to go,” said third baseman Casey McGehee.
What the Marlins were hoping to do was sweep the Rockies before embarking on a much more treacherous part of the schedule, beginning Monday with a three-game set in Anaheim against the Angels.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But the Marlins left Denver staggered.
The Rockies defeated them 7-4 on Sunday, one day after mounting a ninth-inning rally for a come-from-behind win in the 13th.
Brad Hand gave up two home runs in the first inning, the Marlins failed to fully capitalize on seven extra-base hits, and the result was a loss that shoved them back under .500 with a record of 64-65.
What stung even more was the fact that all four teams ahead of them in the National League wild-card standings — the Cardinals, Giants, Braves and Pirates — all lost on Sunday, stripping them of a chance to make up ground in the race on every one of their primary challengers.
Instead, they remained stuck at four games out with 33 to go.
“I guess at the same time it was a blessing,” McGehee said of the fact the Marlins blew a prime opportunity to gain ground on Sunday. “If you’re going to drop one, everybody else did, too. But you can’t get too wrapped up on what everybody else is doing. It doesn’t matter what everybody else does if we don’t play good baseball.”
And the Marlins definitely did not play good baseball in the rubber match of the series. They also caught some tough breaks that were beyond their control.
After the Rockies raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first, the Marlins answered with two in the second, and they trailed just 5-4 after picking up a pair of runs in the seventh.
But did the Marlins miss out on a chance to score even more in the seventh when manager Mike Redmond elected Brad Penny to hit for himself to lead off the inning and the Marlins trailing 5-2?
Redmond said he was dealing with bullpen fatigue and needed Penny, who was brought in to relieve Hand with one out in the fifth, to eat up some innings and save the bullpen after Saturday’s taxing 13-inning marathon.
“We needed innings out of him,” Redmond said. “It wasn’t perfect, but when you play 13 innings the night before, you’ve got to get as much out of guys as you can. He was our freshest arm.”
Penny did a good job of bailing Hand out in the fifth. After Hand issued a bases-loaded walk to Michael McKenry to force in a run, Penny took over and got the next two batters to avoid greater damage.
In the sixth, the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon stroked a single to right that was fielded by Giancarlo Stanton. But Blackmon never slowed and made it safely to second, as it appeared Stanton might have been caught a bit flat-footed on the aggressive play.
It ended up costing the Marlins as Drew Stubbs followed with an RBI double, making it 5-2.
Penny and the Marlins also were victimized in the seventh by a bad-hop grounder that skipped past shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the Rockies took advantage of the fluky grounder and scored twice in the inning to expand their lead on D.J. LeMahieu’s double.
The Marlins totaled 11 hits, but had only four runs to show for them. It was only the fifth time in Marlins history that they collected as many as seven extra-base hits in a game without a home run.
“This place has always been tough to play when you’re not used to it,” Redmond said of Coors. “You see the way the ball flies, and I think everyone has a tendency to do too much in this ballpark. This has always been a place that’s tough to win, and you saw it.”
And so the Marlins headed off to Anaheim, hoping to put a lost weekend behind them.
“This is new territory for a lot of guys on this team, playing meaningful games in August after losing 100 games last year,” Redmond said. “We’re still right there. OK, we lose a series, you got to move on.”