The Miami Marlins entered their four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers with their first of several chances this month to play spoilers against teams in the thick of the National League wild card picture.
They went 0 for 4.
The Brewers, who entered Thursday tied with the Chicago Cubs for the NL’s second wild-card spot, completed their series sweep with a 3-2 win at Marlins Park. The Marlins lost the first three games of the series 8-3 on Monday, 4-3 on Tuesday and 7-5 on Wednesday. They are 51-95 on the year.
The Brewers (78-68), who have won seven consecutive games and 10 of their last 12, took the lead for good on a Ryan Bruan two-run home run in the third inning against Caleb Smith.
The Marlins cut their deficit in half in the fourth when Lewis Brinson’s RBI single scored Isan Diaz, who led off the inning with a triple. The Brewers retired the Marlins’ final 18 batters after that to cling on to their one-run win.
“Just weren’t able to get anything going today,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We kept it at three runs and gave ourselves a chance to win but just couldn’t put runs on the board.
Smith lasted just 5 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four.
A 10-pitch at-bat with Ben Gamel, one that ended with a single to left field, ended Smith’s time on the mound. He threw 107 pitches.
“He just wouldn’t go down. He had a good at-bat,” Smith said. “I definitely wanted to stay in. You’re never going to see me want to come out of a game.”
It was the latest setback for a Miami team that is trying to avoid posting the worst single-season record in franchise history.
A 10-31 start derailed their season from the get-go. They got as close as 13 games from hitting the .500 mark after that thanks to a 13-5 stretch before more waves of losses rolled over the team.
The Marlins are five losses away from their third-ever 100-loss season. Miami needs to go at least 4-12 down the stretch to avoid the 108-loss mark set in the 1998 season.
Injuries and inexperience played factors throughout the year as the Marlins continue with their latest rebuild.
And Miami’s final stretch of the season isn’t getting any easier.
Just look at the Marlins’ schedule after their three-game series at the San Francisco Giants this weekend.
▪ Three games at the Arizona Diamondbacks (Entered Thursday 2.5 games back of the second NL wild card spot). The Marlins won three of four against the Diamondbacks at Marlins Park at the end of July.
▪ Three games at home versus the Washington Nationals (3.5 games ahead of the wild card field). Miami is 3-13 against the Nationals this year.
▪ Four games at the New York Mets (Two games back). Miami is 4-11 against the Mets this year.
▪ Three games at the Philadelphia Phillies (Two games back). Miami is 9-7 against the Phillies this year.
There are opportunities for the Marlins to be a knockout punch for those four teams still vying for a postseason berth.
There is also the chance that it seals the Marlins’ fate.