After a 6-5 loss to the Brewers on Sunday afternoon, it didn't take manager Edwin Rodriguez long to evaluate and analyze his team's recent troubles.
"They are trying too hard, I guess", Rodriguez insisted. "Sometimes they put too much pressure on themselves at the plate".
Whether it was too much pressure, or just the mentality that they absolutely must put an end to their current losing skid, the Marlins were unable to solve the Brewers for the third consecutive game. With Anibal Sanchez, the second best pitcher on the Marlins' roster since Josh Johnson has gone on the DL, starting the afternoon game, the Marlins had to feel that they had a great chance of winning. However, little did they know that Anibal Sanchez wouldn't have his best stuff and would only last 5 innings. Sanchez had given up 5 earned runs in his previous five starts, and had that number added onto his line after what must of felt like a long afternoon.
Although Sanchez gave up five runs, to make matters worse, his counterpart Chris Narveson was fooling hitters with his nasty changeup and his big 12-6 curveball. The Marlins' offense expolded for five runs in the sixth inning after being shut out the previous three Sundays. The biggest blow came of the bat of catcher Brett Hayes, who took a hanging curveball on the inside part of the plate and crushed it into the club level (blue seat) section of Sun-Life Stadium.
"I was just trying to battle", Hayes explained. "He just hung a curveball".
Both starters didn't make it through six innings, and it instantly became a new game, that would be decided by the bullpen. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Marlins had the bases loaded and one out for first baseman Gaby Sanchez. Sanchez hit a ground ball to third base, prompting third baseman Craig Counsell to throw home for the force out. Mike Stanton followed with a broken bat fly out to left that would have dropped for a walk-off hit if he wasn't as strong.
The Marlins' bullpen had not given up a hit for 6 1/3 innings until lefty Mike Dunn, working for the second consecutive inning, threw a fastball right down the middle that ex-Marlin Josh Wilson deposited into the left field seats in the 11th inning. The home run prompted Brewers closer John Axford to begin warming up for the bottom of the 11th.
Axford was in to try and close out his third consecutive game and put the Marlins' current losing streak at 4 games. Axford collected his third save in as many games as the Marlins left the tying run in scoring position, making the theme of the series even more evident: No hits with runners in scoring position. The Marlins are 5 for 32 with RISP in the four game series thus far, and fell to 3 games behind the NL East leading Phillies, as the Atlanta Braves did. The Marlins fell to 4-6 in extra innings games and have consistently not played well in day games all season long.
*An announcement is expected to be made Monday after the Brewers-Marlins series finale that LHP Brad Hand will be called up from Double-A Jacksonville to make a start in place of the injured Josh Johnson who is yet to throw a bullpen session.