If the Marlins are in a pennant race, they’re sure not acting like it. Rather than sit and watch the division-leading Nationals lose to the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon, they had the clubhouse TVs turned off while playing cards and Sudoku.
Don Mattingly wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Marlins return home Friday for a 10-game homestand, with seven of the games against two teams they’re vying with in the wild-card race: the Mets and Cardinals.
The Marlins manager said he doesn’t consider those games more significant than any of the others on the remainder of the schedule.
“There’s going to be a ton of games after that that are going to be just as important,” Mattingly said. “The way I look at it is, they’re all big. That’s what we have asked our guys to do; hold yourself to an expectation that we have to win every day. We want to have that kind of thought process on all series and every game.”
The Marlins began the day Thursday holding down the second spot in the wild-card standings, one game in front of both the Mets and Cardinals. Miami has a three-game series at Marlins Park against the Mets to begin the homestand and a four-game series against St. Louis to close it out.
“We’re not putting undue pressure on one series,” Mattingly said.
DIETRICH IN SLUMP
Derek Dietrich repeatedly slammed his bat in frustration inside the dugout after striking out on Wednesday night. Dietrich has gone 1 for 24 since the All-Star break, and Mattingly said the second baseman could be pressing.
“I think, since this second half [started], he’s been a little funky for me,” Mattingly said. “I think he’s pressing, honestly.”
Mattingly said part of the issue could be the pending return of Dee Gordon from his 80-game suspension. Gordon is due back on Thursday and will take playing time away from Dietrich.
“I don’t know if he’s thinking about Dee coming back,” Mattingly said. “But he’s a guy who puts pressure on himself. He had a good first half, and I’m sure that he looked at it as, ‘I want to get off to a good start’ [in the second half].”
▪ Ichiro Suzuki got his first start of the Phillies series on Thursday, replacing Giancarlo Stanton in right. Stanton had gone just 1 for 12 in the series. Mattingly also rested J.T. Realmuto on Thursday. He did the same with shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria on Wednesday.
The Marlins are in the midst of a stretch in which they’re playing games 20 days in a row. With that in mind, and also because they aren’t scheduled to land in Miami from the road trip until mid-morning Friday, Mattingly decided to give a few of his regulars a day off.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (6-5, 3.61 ERA) vs. New York Mets RHP Logan Verrett (3-6, 4.21), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (11-4, 2.53) vs. Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (6-4, 2.38), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.