Don Mattingly spared himself from having to sit through yet another lethargic loss when he was ejected for complaining about home plate umpire Ben May’s strike zone on Friday.
Mattingly was tossed in the fourth inning of the Marlins’ 8-2 loss to the Nationals, which prevented him seeing with his own eyes:
-- The 0-2 pitch from Dan Straily that Matt Wieters launched over the wall for a home run.
-- Magneuris Sierra taking his own sweet time going after Bryce Harper’s single and allowing it to become a double.
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-- Jarlin Garcia heaving a pick-off throw into foul territory.
-- Rafael Ortega’s outfield throw skipping into the camera well and allowing a run to score.
-- And Marlins hitters flailing throughout the evening against Max Scherzer.
“It can’t be good to watch,” said Mattingly, who watched the final five innings from his office. “When you play non-aggressive, you play scared, you make mistakes that you shouldn’t be making, it’s really frustrating to watch that kind of baseball. Here in recent days, it’s just unacceptable what we’re watching.”
Mattingly was particularly critical of Sierra, the fastest player on the Marlins who was so slow in getting to Harper’s single in the fifth that he allowed it become a double.
“That just can’t happen,” Mattingly said. “The Harper ball, he’s assuming he’s not going to run. There’s no way in the world that guy should ever go to second base on that ball. He’s got to be aggressive.”
Mattingly said he spoke privately with Sierra after the game.
“He’s playing scared. He’s playing tentative,” Mattingly said. “You just can’t play like that here. When you’re playing non-aggressive and always being on your heels, it’s just not a way to play. And it’s one of the things we won’t keep watching.”
The Marlins are not a pleasant sight these days, losing 15 of their past 17 games in which they’ve been outscored 101-44. Their only two wins during that span have each been by one run.
Does the gaudy “MVP Chain” the players bought in late July to award winning performance continue to exist? The Marlins have won just five games since the chain was unveiled following a victory over the Braves on July 24 and is likely gathering dust somewhere.
The Marlins last won a road game on July 21 in St. Petersburg and haven’t won a game outside Florida since before the All-Star break when they defeated the Nationals here on July 8.
The Marlins established a new single-season franchise record on Friday by losing their 12th straight on the road, breaking by one the 11-game road skid of the 108-loss ’98 team.
Not that the Marlins are playing much better at home.
They’re not playing well anywhere.
“You’ve got to ask yourself at the end of the day a couple of questions, and one of them is ‘Did I give everything I had on the field today?” Straily said. “If the answer is no, in too many days you won’t be around. Everyone in this room is playing hard but sometimes it might not always look it.”
The Marlins scored their only run on Austin Dean’s seventh-inning home run off Trevor Gott. It was Dean’s first Major League hit. Dean became the 11th Marlins player to homer for his career major league hit. The last to do it was John Baker in 2008.
Otherwise, it was another dominating performance by Scherzer, who improved his record this season against the Marlins to 4-0. He held the Marlins to six hits over six innings. Scherzer also doubled and scored a pair of runs.
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