Don Mattingly didn’t pull punches after the Marlins’ loss Tuesday to the Cubs, saying his team “played scared” after jumping out to a quick lead and allowing it to evaporate into a 4-3 setback to the Cubs.
Mattingly is seldom critical of his players, at least publicly.
But, without singling out anyone in particular, Tuesday was the exception.
“Probably one of the most frustrating games of the year for me,” Mattingly said.
The Marlins raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning only to flatten out the rest of the way as the Cubs clawed back for the win.
“Like we were going to hold on and win in this ballpark against that club?” Mattingly said. “Like three (runs) was going to be enough? I felt like we played backwards, played scared. The whole night was really frustrating.”
Small mistakes added up to the Marlins’ second straight loss.
The final one came in the eighth when, with the Cubs’ Kris Bryant at third and the Marlins’ infield playing in, Starlin Castro fielded Victor Carotini’s ground ball.
But he was slow removing the ball from his glove and his throw was to the wrong slide of the plate as Bryant slid across with the decisive run, turning a 3-3 tie into a 4-3 lead.
“Thats the play we wanted there,” Castro said, accepting blame. “We know that he’s going to run on contact. I’ve got to make a quicker throw. It’s on me. I’ve got to make the play. It’s a routine ball.”
The loss assured the Marlins their first series loss after taking four in a row.
It started well for the Marlins when they scored three in the first on Justin Bour’s seventh homer, a two-run shot into the left field bleachers off Cubs pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng, and back-to-back doubles by Brian Anderson and Derek Dietrich.
But the scoring ended there for the Marlins as Cubs manager Joe Maddon used a parade of relievers to shut down the lowest scoring team in the Majors. The Marlins managed only two hits after the first inning.
The closest the Marlins came to adding to their total came in the fourth when Dietrich was thrown out easily while trying to score on Lewis Brinson’s one-out single to right. Ben Zobrist’s throw was in the hands of Caratini before Dietrich even had a chance to slide.
Instead, Dietrich gave Caratini a hard shove, which prompted benches to empty. The brief stare-down near home plate didn’t escalate from there, however.
“I think I was out by a lot,” Dietrich said. “He went to make a tag. I wasn’t there. So he moved back in front of the plate, so that’s how we kind of collided. I tried to explain that to him. I was surprised we even cleared the benches for that one. At least I know our guys are ready to roll.”
After the first, it was up to Urena to hold the Cubs the rest of the way.
But the Cubs scored a pair of runs in the second and tied it in the sixth after Bryant was hit by a Urena pitch to start the inning and scored on Caratini’s ground ball.
For Urena, who didn’t receive a decision and remained 0-5, it was another solid outing without positive results. Urena had given up only a run in each of his two previous outings but ended with losses in each because the Marlins gave him no run support.
He had three runs to work with Tuesday, but they weren’t enough.
“The theme for me is we get three in the first and we’re just going to hold on, not going to keep playing aggressive,” Mattingly said. “Like we’re going to sit there and just hold these guys off for nine innings. It was disappointing.”