The Marlins are glad that August is over.
They not only closed out their worst month of the season with another loss on Wednesday night, but lost two more players to injuries on what was the final day of a brutal month.
The New York Mets handed the Marlins a 5-2 loss at Citi Field, bringing an end to a month in which they went 10-18 and lost precious positioning in the wild-card playoff race.
“We weren’t very good this month,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You turn that page, and you’ve got to keep going. This thing doesn’t feel very good right now. But we also know in three, four, five days from now — it could be a whole different story and things can change really quickly.”
David Phelps was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday because of an oblique injury he sustained taking batting practice the day before. Marcell Ozuna came out in the fourth after injuring his left wrist while making a tumbling catch.
X-rays were negative, but Ozuna has a sprain that could keep him benched for a couple of games. With Phelps going down, the Marlins called up Jake Esch from Triple A New Orleans to face the Mets in what was his major-league debut.
Esch was in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with the Zephyrs late Tuesday when he received word to pack his bags and get to New York in time for Wednesday’s start.
“[Tuesday] was a more emotional day for me,” Esch said. “[Wednesday] I was excited to get up here and join a pennant race. There’s nothing like getting thrown in the fire.”
The 26-year-old right-hander did about as well as the Marlins could have hoped, giving up a two-run homer to Wilmer Flores but avoiding further damage by working out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the fourth.
“I wish I could take back one mistake,” Esch said of his home run pitch to Flores. “It would’ve taken the pressure off everybody else later in the game.”
He was lifted in the fifth and, thanks to a game-tying solo homer by Christian Yelich, escaped without a loss.
But the deadlock was broken when A.J. Ramos came out to work the eighth and struggled with his command. The Mets loaded the bases on a leadoff single by Yoenis Cespedes and a pair of walks.
Kelly Johnson then ripped a full-count slider to right for a three-run double.
“He did what he was supposed to do with that in a big situation, and just hit it over first base and scored those runs,” Ramos said. “He just beat me on that pitch.”
More than once, Ramos looked down at his right hand. Ramos only recently came off the disabled list because of a hairline fracture in his right middle finger, and it clearly appeared to bother him on Wednesday.
“That was a non-issue,” Ramos said. “I just didn’t make the pitches when they needed to be made, for whatever reason. It’s kind of one of those outings where I couldn’t make a pitch. I was trying to do the best with what I had out there.”
Mattingly said Ramos has made no mention of any lingering issues with the finger.
“Obviously, we know he’s not 100 percent,” Mattingly said. “But we haven’t heard anything about, if he’s going to be honest with us, if he can’t go or if he’s feeling something. If that’s the case, it’s not something that we know about.”
The loss was the fifth in a row for the Marlins, who must beat the Mets on Thursday to avoid a four-game sweep.
At least August is over for them.
“It’s been a tough month,” Ramos said. “A lot of injuries. Guys struggling at the plate. Guys struggling on the mound. It’s been one of those tough months, but you can’t give up. You’re still right there in the thick of things.”