June 10, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) reacts during the second against the Tampa Bay Rays at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Hero Of The Game: N/A (Logan Morrison with .142 WPA)
Goat Of The Game: Anibal Sanchez (-.196 WPA)
Play Of The Game: With the Rays leading 2-0, Elliot Johnson hit a two run homer to right field to double the Rays' advantage.
Nothing went right for the Marlins on Saturday night, and the struggles continued throughout a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday afternoon. Anibal Sanchez struggled on the mound, and the offense still was unable to collect timely hits. Even Giancarlo Stanton, the National League player of the month in May, couldn't help the Marlins at the plate, as he took a 3-2 pitch right down the middle for a called third strike during his first at bat.
Tampa Bay began the game just where they had left off on Saturday night, as they scored a run and took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. With one out, Carlos Pena, who is known for his patience at the plate, drew a walk, and BJ Upton smoked a ball into the left center field gap which allowed Pena to score. Upton advanced to third on the throw home, but was stranded there after Sanchez made good pitches to retire Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist.
The Marlins had an opportunity in the bottom of the second, as Logan Morrison doubled off of James Shields with one out. However, as the offense has been inconsistent with runners in scoring position, Morrison was stranded there after Gaby Sanchez, who was back in the starting lineup after a three week tenure at AAA New Orleans, grounded out, and after a walk to Chris Coghlan, Brett Hayes was rung up.
Offensively, the Rays shined in the top of the fourth against Sanchez. Matt Joyce led off the inning with a homer to right field, giving Tampa Bay a 2-0 advantage, and after Ben Zobrist singled, stole second, and advanced to third on an error by catcher Brett Hayes, Elliot Johnson hit his fourth home run of the season, which put the Rays up 4-0.
Sanchez, who had settled in after giving up two homers in the fourth inning, was pinch hit for by Justin Ruggiano in the sixth. Ruggiano, who had a big series, began the inning with a double off of Shields, who was working quickly and efficiently while utilizing his changeup and fastball. Ruggiano got to third after a fly ball off the bat of Jose Reyes, but was thrown out at home on an Omar Infante ground ball to third base.
Ryan Webb kept the Rays off the board in the 7th, and the Marlins' bats got going in the bottom half of the inning. Logan Morrison led off with his second double off of Shields, and Gaby Sanchez drove him in with a double of his own, making it 4-1. Chris Coghlan walked, giving the Marlins runners on first and second and nobody out, but Brett Hayes struck out, and Jake McGee retired Greg Dobbs and Jose Reyes to end the inning.
Giancarlo Stanton, with two outs in the eighth, singled off of Rays' reliever Joel Peralta, advanced to second on defensive indifference, and eventually scored on a single by Logan Morrison. The Marlins' bullpen kept it a 4-2 game heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Fernando Rodney, the Rays' closer with an ERA under one, entered the game and quickly retired Chris Coghlan and Brett Hayes. Donovan Solano, who has played well since being called up, had a pinch hit single, but Rodney got Jose Reyes to ground out to extend the Marlins' losing streak to six games and secure the series sweep.
Anibal Sanchez ended up going six decent innings (4 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO), and the bullpen did its job, but the lack of offense continues to be an issue, as the Marlins are just 5 for their last 50 with runners in scoring position. James Shields, who pitched two complete games against Miami last season, dominated the lineup.
Josh Johnson and the Marlins will try to end the six game skid on Monday night, when the Boston Red Sox come to town for a three game series.