Miami Marlins

The Marlins are struggling to get ‘that key hit.’ The result: An MLB-leading 13 shutouts

As Jorge Alfaro’s ground ball rolled to second baseman Kolten Wong in the ninth inning, the Miami Marlins once again walked away from a game empty handed.

For the league-leading 13th time this year — and for the third time in nine games — the Marlins were shut out. This time, it was a 5-0 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium to open a seven-game road trip. No other team has been shut out more than seven times this year.

And lately, the Marlins are getting blanked despite putting up some steady offensive numbers.

In their last two shutouts — 5-0 to the Cardinals on Monday and 11-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday — the Marlins recorded 17 total hits. They were also shut out twice earlier this year against the Chicago Cubs (April 16) and Tampa Bay Rays (May 15) despite getting seven hits in each of those games.

The Marlins (25-45) have four of the 11 games this year in which a team lost in a shutout despite recording at least seven hits. The Cubs have two such games. The Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox each have one.

So what goes wrong?

“We don’t get that key hit and really get something going,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Take Monday’s loss to the Cardinals, for example. The Marlins may have had eight hits, but they were not able to string at-bats together, making scoring chances hard to find. The Marlins had just three runners in scoring position all game, and no one reached second base with fewer than two outs. Only once — in the sixth inning — did the Marlins record multiple hits in an inning, and that came on back-to-back two-out singles by Brian Anderson and Starlin Castro. Harold Ramirez flew out to center to end the frame.

“We had guys out there a couple times,” Mattingly said. “... We had a few chances, but we weren’t really able to get anything going.”

Overall this year, the Marlins are hitting .175 in their shutout losses. Of their 70 hits in those games, 57 (81.4 percent) are singles. The Marlins are also averaging 5.4 hits per shutout loss. The other 29 MLB teams are averaging just four hits per game when they get shut out.

The Marlins are 29th in MLB and last in the National league with a .234 batting average with runners on base.

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.