Don Mattingly on offensive woes: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything quite like this’
The opportunity was there for the Miami Marlins in the sixth inning like it hasn’t been often in this miserable offensive season. The Marlins trailed the Tampa Bay Rays by only one run Wednesday in Miami when they put a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs.
Jon Berti was the first to get a crack at tying the game and he couldn’t even put the ball in play. Rosell Herrera got his shot next and his try at a sacrifice fly didn’t get past the infield dirt. Martin Prado got the final crack as a pinch hitter and the middle infielder didn’t even take a swing at a called third strike. Three innings later, the Marlins headed back to the clubhouse 1-0 losers, suffering a sweep at the hands of the rival Rays and extending their season-long losing streak to seven games.
“We had some chances with guys out there and weren’t able to really capitalize,” manager Don Mattingly said. “In general, I think most guys, you see them put more pressure on themselves with runners in scoring position than they do in a regular at-bat.”
Another display of offensive ineptitude — 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position — cost a Miami starter once again. It was another good outing for Jose Urena, who has mostly righted the ship since allowing at least four earned runs in each of his first three starts for the Marlins (10-31) this season. The starting pitcher went six innings, allowing just one runs on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk. Urena flirted with some trouble, but it only bit him in the second inning when catcher Anthony Bemboom drove in the only run of the game with a double to score Willy Adames after the middle infielder drew a one-out walk.
Although he allowed Tampa Bay (26-15) multiple baserunners in four of his six innings, Urena (1-6) held the opponent to two earned runs or fewer for the fifth time in his last six outings. The right-handed pitcher has gone at least six innings in each of those starts.
“We try to get a quick out, so I can maybe throw deep in the game,” Urena said. “I take credit every time when I get out there and attack the hitter, and see how they can adjust to me. If they can’t, I need to keep attacking every time out.”
He could have gone more Wednesday had the Marlins’ offense given Mattingly less reason for desperation. Miami trailed 1-0 when slugger Garrett Cooper drew a lead-off walk and catcher Jorge Alfaro moved him over to third with a double. With no outs, the Marlins had two chances to drive in a tying run before Urena’s spot in the order would come to the plate.
Berti struck out looking, then Herrera launched a harmless pop up to third base. Miami had to pinch hit for Urena with Prado to take one last crack at bringing Cooper home and the corner infielder struck out looking.
There were no more opportunities the rest of the way against the Rays, who used pitcher Ryne Stanek as an opener, then used seven relievers to get through the series finale with the help of relief pitcher Jalen Beeks, who pitched three innings. Beeks (3-0) provided the bulk of the work, immediately following Stanek and striking out four to shut out the Marlins for the second straight game in front of 5,947 at Marlins Park.
“They put you in a little bit of a bind because they can go back and forth, they can pick parts of the order that they want to be able to go left and right with you,” Mattingly said. “They’ve got 10 guys in that ‘pen, so they’re able to do some things. They do put you in a bind with that.”
Marlins keep shuffling back-end relievers
Jarlin Garcia is getting a shot in Miami for the second time this season.
After just 12 days with Triple A New Orleans, Garcia returned to the Marlins on Wednesday before their series finale against the Rays. The pitcher gives Miami a much needed middle-inning lefty with the ability to also fill a long-relief role. A player is required to spend a minimum in 10 days in the minors after being sent down unless he’s replacing someone going on the injured list. Garcia was optioned on May 3 to make room for relief pitcher Austin Brice’s return from the IL.
With Drew Steckenrider on the 60-day IL, the Marlins are missing one of their top late-inning relievers for the foreseeable future, which could mean an expanded role for relief pitcher Adam Conley, who was the only lefty in the bullpen other than Wei-Yin Chen before Garcia arrived. Garcia, who allowed five earned runs in five innings in his first Major League stint earlier this year, will help pad out the back end.
To make room for Garcia, Miami sent fellow pitcher Elieser Hernandez back to the New Orleans Baby Cakes. Hernandez did not make an appearance in his brief stint in the Majors and will now get to build on his strong start in New Orleans, where he had a 1.16 ERA in six starts.
▪ Miguel Rojas left the Marlins’ loss at the end of the fourth inning with back spasms. Jon Berti, who is primarily a second baseman or third baseman, replaced Rojas at shortstop for the final five innings. Miami, which is off Thursday, lists the infielder as day to day.
▪ Steckenrider got a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on his right elbow Wednesday, which confirmed the initial diagnosis of a right flexor strain. The relief pitcher will not require surgery, just rest, although there is no timetable for his return. The Marlins moved the right-handed pitcher to the 60-day IL on Saturday after placing him on the 10-day IL last Wednesday.