The Marlins came dangerously close to ending up on the wrong side of major league history on Sunday.
Miguel Rojas' two-out single in the seventh ended Clayton Richard's bid to become the first pitcher in San Diego Padres history to throw a no-hitter.
The result was a 3-1 loss for the Marlins. But at least they didn't land in the record books. The Padres, who have been around since 1969, remain the only active team in the majors that has never had a pitcher -- or combination of pitchers -- throw a no-hitter. The Marlins have thrown six by comparison.
Richard (5-6) came tantalizingly close to ending the Padres franchise drought.
The left-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh before Rojas spoiled his historic bid with a clean single up the middle, bringing cheers from Sunday's announced crowd of 12,984.
Until then, though, Richard swiftly worked his way through the Marlins' lineup, retiring one batter after another. It was the quickest home game of the season for the Marlins, taking only 2:24 to complete. The quickest road game: May 30 in San Diego when Richard and Jose Urena went at it in a game that took only two hours and 20 minutes. In that one, Richard gave up only four hits over seven innings.
"I don't think there's any tricks with knowing who he is," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Richard. "We've seen him enough. A couple of series ago I thought we chased a lot of balls down, a lot of easy outs. Obviously, these guys know it, so the movement was probably good today."
The Marlins were able to make contact, for the most part. Richards struck out only five batters. But nothing that came off their bats landed for a hit.
Cameron Maybin crushed a fly ball that was caught on the warning track in center in the first inning, a ball that might have gone out in many other ballparks.
"It doesn't matter," Maybin said. "We play here. There's no what-ifs in this game."
Said Mattingly: "It was one of those balls you thought he got it good."
Lewis Brinson nearly beat out an infield hit with a ground ball in the second. But second baseman Jose Pirela's throw beat him by a whisker, a play so close that the Marlins asked for a replay review. Their challenge was unsuccessful.
Urena, who has received precious little run support all season, received none at all on Sunday. Urena went six innings, allowing three runs, with two coming on Eric Hosmer's home run in the sixth. Given Richard's performance, three runs was insurmountable for the Marlins, who ended up losing two of three from the Padres in the series.
The Marlins scored their only run in the seventh, which was Richard's final inning. Following Rojas' hit, JT Riddle stroked a RBI single to prevent the shutout. Those would turn out to be the Marlins' only hits all game as the Padres bullpen picked up where Richards left off.
"He got quick outs," Maybin said. "That's what he does. He works fast, throws a lot of strikes. He had some good stuff going today."
Former Marlins pitcher Brad Hand worked the ninth for his 19th save.
As last week’s amateur draft was unfolding, one rival scout remembered thinking to himself as the Marlins were making their picks: “Holy (expletive). The Marlins are a player now.”
“It was their best draft in 10 years,” said the scout, who asked not to be identified.
The scout noticed that the Marlins’ drafting philosophy had changed from what had been a conservative approach of taking “safe” players with lower ceilings to selecting more athletic players with higher potential upsides.
The reason: new Marlins vice president of player development Gary Denbo wielded greater influence in the drafting process than did long-time vice president of scouting Stan Meek, whose role has diminished.
One obvious beyond the types of players the Marlins drafted: while Meek was made available to reporters to discuss the draft beforehand, it was Denbo who spoke to them afterward to summarize the team’s selections.
While a team source disputed a Sunday report indicating Meek had lost his title as Marlins’ scouting director, Meek’s involvement with the team has been sharply reduced and his future with the club remains uncertain.