Wins have been hard for the Marlins to obtain as is this season.
So blown opportunities like the one they squandered Friday night continue to sting even more.
Two days after the Boston Red Sox tagged its relievers for 11 runs in one inning, Miami’s bullpen suffered another collapse by giving up five runs in the ninth and dooming the Marlins to a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
Marlins’ relievers have allowed 20 runs over the past 6 2/3 innings they have pitched. This was the third consecutive game the Marlins led in the seventh inning or later and lost.
“This is a tough one to take,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Dan pitched a quality game all day and then to just not be able to close it out there. Obviously, frustrating for everyone.”
Dan Straily delivered his second consecutive ace-caliber performance, going eight innings and allowing only one run.
But he was denied the chance at a team-best sixth win after the Blue Jays erased a four-run deficit in the ninth.
Justin Smoak’s pinch-hit grand slam off Drew Steckenrider would decide the outcome for Toronto (61-73), which loaded the bases with one out when Kyle Barraclough gave up two hits and issued a walk.
“I felt good, but made a mistake to [Kendrys] Morales [on] 0-2 [count],” said Barraclough referring to Morales’ leadoff single in the ninth. “It wasn’t a bad pitch, but with two strikes you can’t make that kind of mistake to a guy that’s swinging the way he is.”
Steckenrider struck out Aledmys Diaz, but forced in a run when he walked Devon Travis.
Smoak then smacked a 94.5 mph fastball from Steckenrider into Toronto’s bullpen in right field.
Straily navigated his way through Toronto’s lineup with relative ease and pitched his longest outing since July 7 of last year when he lasted 8 1/3 innings against the Giants in San Francisco.
Straily gave up four hits, struck out four and walked one on 104 pitches, and has allowed only one run in his past 15 innings.
“I knew seeing seven right-handers in the lineup if I could attack down and away with fastball-slider it would be hopefully a pretty good day,” Straily said. “That’s what we were trying to work with.”
Straily had a 12-inning scoreless streak snapped in the sixth inning when the Jays scored on a sacrifice fly by Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. that drove in Curtis Granderson.
Straily was hit on his right middle finger by an 89-mph slider from Murphy Smith in the sixth inning but remained in the game. Straily said after the game it was still sore, but would have to see how he felt on Saturday morning. The Marlins are planning to promote multiple pitchers starting Saturday with Major League Baseball’s September roster expansions commencing, which would give them options if Straily’s next start were to be pushed back at all.
“If it’s going to take away from my stuff then I’m not going to stay out there,” Straily said. “Everything was fine. It was just unfortunate.”
The Marlins (53-82) gave Straily plenty of run support scoring three in the fourth inning and two in the fifth.
Brian Anderson sparked both rallies with doubles and reached base four of the five times he came to the plate. Starlin Castro also went 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI.
The Marlins put a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the ninth, but failed to score and dropped their fourth consecutive game.
“We played eight innings of really good baseball tonight as a team,” Straily said. “It’s just sometimes stuff like that happens. Those guys are two really good relievers and they’re going to be really good relievers for some time. They just didn’t get it done tonight. We’ve all been there. They’re going to lose sleep and be frustrated, but at the end of the day those guys are very good back end relievers and will be for a very long time.”
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