The Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets on Thursday night, thereby snapping a five-game losing streak and beginning the new month on the right fin.
Wins have been tough to come by in Miami over the past few weeks, as they finished August with an abysmal 10-18 record. Blame the slide on injuries to key contributors and disappointing performances from trade-deadline additions — a combination as frustrating to a competitive team as a stalled sweatshirt zipper is to the average person — but there’s another reason why the Marlins have gotten lost in the stacks of the National League wild card race: their recent inability to win close games.
On the season, Miami possesses a 19-19 record in one-run games. Yet the sequencing of those results — particularly here lately — is jarring. Consider that the Marlins entered August 16-9 in such contests, then suffered 10 of their 18 losses by a combined 10 runs. And remember — that’s over a four-week stretch, meaning the Marlins were averaging more than two such defeats per week. Oh, and if you think that’s brutal, try this: four of those losses came against bad teams, like the Cincinnati Reds , San Diego Padres , and Chicago White Sox . The Fish had their chance to run away with this — or at least keep up — and they’ve instead laid eggs.
That run of close-game dysfunction has cost the Marlins in their pursuit of the second wild card. On August 1, the Fish were leading the race by a half game. They’ve since sank — not to the bottom, but to a point where they’re three games back of the leader and behind two other teams in the standings. Predictably, Miami’s playoff odds have gone from close to 40 percent on July 31 (the season’s high tide, if you will) to six percent on September 2 (the … well, you get it), according to Baseball Prospectus.
What’s clogged the Marlins’ gills? Those aforementioned bumps and bruises to bodies and egos that expected better. Giancarlo Stanton , Adam Conley , Wei-Yen Chen, Justin Bour , and Derek Dietrich are on the disabled list; Andrew Cashner and Fernando Rodney haven’t pitched as advertised; and heck, even All-Star closer A.J. Ramos stumbled in August, blowing his second and third saves of the season and earning his first and second losses. Meanwhile, Dee Gordon , Marcell Ozuna , and Ichiro — whose importance grew with the Stanton’s absence — suffered through brutal months at the plate.
The Marlins have, in effect, transitioned from a team in a fortuitous situation — one where their rivals were dealing with myriad injuries and roster-related trauma — to suffering from those same ills, as if they were coughed on along the way. And, unlike the St. Louis Cardinals and Mets, who have each course-corrected, the Marlins don’t have a lot of time or opportunity remaining. The Fish won’t play the Cardinals again this season, yet will play competitive teams in 15 of their final 28 games. Alas, just three of those games have significance to the wild card race — a series at home against the Mets.
To say everything looked good in Miami just a month ago would be an understatement. Now? The Marlins seem less like destiny’s team, and more like attrition’s.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / How the Marlins’ poor performance in one-run games has shifted NL wild card race