They are fighting right now to avoid setting nearly every mark for season-long futility in the history of the franchise. The Miami Marlins, currently on pace for the second worst record in franchise history, play more than two-thirds of the final month of the season on the road and a bulk of those are against teams contending for at least a Wild Card spot.
On Friday against the Washington Nationals, the 2019 Marlins placed themselves in Miami’s record book for one of those unsightly reasons. The Marlins lost on the road again, this time a 7-6 walk-off defeat in Washington, bringing their road losing streak up to a franchise-record 13 straight games. They have not won a game on the road in August and only have one more chance to do so Saturday when they continue a three-game series at Nationals Park against one of the hottest teams in MLB.
There were moments when the streak seemed as if it was maybe heading toward an end and each time, almost immediately, those fleeting moments of optimism were wiped away. Miami (48-86) scored first in the top of the first on a one-out home run by outfielder Harold Ramirez, who belted a walk-off homer Thursday to beat the Cincinnati Reds, and Washington (75-58) immediately hit back to take a 2-1 lead into the second. In the seventh inning, the Marlins erased a 4-2 lead against the Nationals bullpen, but they immediately let Washington retake a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the frame on a go-ahead double by Juan Soto.
The ninth inning nearly made Starlin Castro, one of the hottest hitters in the Majors, a hero once again. A go-ahead home run off relief pitcher Daniel Hudson put Miami ahead 6-5 before the lead crumbled apart in the ninth.
“It’s kind of frustrating. You can see it at the start of the game. We started losing the game and then we tied, and then we scored the run to get the lead,” Castro said. “It’s a little frustrating, but we’re fighting.”
Utilityman Howie Kendrick led off with a pinch-hit single against pitcher Ryne Stanek and star shortstop Trea Turner followed him with a walk. Slugger Gerardo Parra flubbed a bunt, but catcher Jorge Alfaro flubbed a pitch with a passed ball and the go-ahead run moved to second base with the tying run on third.
The Nationals had exactly who they wanted at the plate to face Stanek (0-4) with the game on the line. Superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon ripped a single to left. Chants of “M-V-P” cascaded from the crowd of 26,201 while the Marlins returned to their clubhouse on the wrong end of another one-run game.
“It’s been frustrating,” Stanek said. “Today was just another—it sucked, honestly.”
As frustrating as it was, manager Don Mattingly still walked away accepting, at least.
When Washington erased Miami’s early lead, the manager liked how his team knotted the score in the seventh. When the Nationals took a lead into the ninth, Mattingly liked to see Ramirez notch his third hit of the game against Hudson (8-3) and liked to see Castro connect for his third with a go-ahead homer, giving him 28 RBIs in the month.
as wins become fleeting and worthy of outright celebration, there is no choice but to try desperately to squeeze some positives out of losses.
“I was really happy actually with our club tonight,” Mattingly said. “We got ahead, they come back to take the lead, we come back to tie it up, they go a couple runs up, we come back again to get a lead, they come back again, so I was happy with the way the guys kept coming. They battled. We obviously left some chances out there during the course of the game, we left some runners out there, but still I thought the battle was good.”
This and that
▪ JT Riddle was returned from his rehab stint for further evaluation on the right forearm injury which has kept him out since July. Riddle, who has played shortstop and outfield this season, was experiencing right forearm soreness.
▪ With the Florida State League and Gulf Coast League seasons cut short by Hurricane Dorian, the Marlins transferred a pair of their top prospects to other affiliates in order to get them more playing time. Shortstop Jose Devers, the organization’s No. 11 prospect in the MLB.com rankings, was transferred from Class A Advanced Jupiter to Class A Clinton and Nasim Nunez, the No. 16 prospect in the system, was promoted from the Rookie GCL Marlins to Class A Short Season Batavia.