The headline of this article should have read: "The Miami Marlins have to complete Phillies sweep". However, the team failed yet again to put together a nine-inning game last night as the offense fizzled out and the bullpen couldn't stop Philadelphia from padding their lead late in the game. This resulted in the Phillies scoring a season-high seven runs and the Marlins dropping to 3-11, exactly how they opened the 100-loss campaign of 2013.
The frustrating thing is that this team is so much better (on paper) than the 2013 squad. The Marlins supplemented rising starts with established veterans this winter and entered the season with playoff aspirations. The Marlins haven't just stumbled out of the gates though, they're still stuck behind them. Every game seems to provide viewers with a different reason to shout at the TV, whether it is an inadequate starting pitching performance, a lackluster offense or the bullpen showing why it is the worst in the majors at this point.
Things will change one of two ways over the next two games in the city of brotherly love.
The Marlins might finally find a way to put together a solid game from start to finish. Granted, the season is less than ten percent complete. Therefore, it is not time for panic, but sooner or later the Fish need to start winning. Miami is already eight games back of the Mets in the NL East, and the two teams were supposed to battle it out for the postseason in 2015. Morale is low, and frustration is high.
Joe Frisaro of mlb.com reported this comment from the Marlins clubhouse during the series against the Mets:
"Terrible," Yelich said. "I mean, I don't know. I'm trying to remember a time when I felt this terrible out there, but I really can't. I don't know what's going on."
This could have been said by a number of Marlins players, not just Christian Yelich. Seemingly everyone on the roster has had their fair share of struggles so far in 2015 apart from Dee Gordon and arguably, Dan Haren. If there is one thing that can break the team out of it's funk, it is a victory. Just one game where the Marlins have a good day at the plate, a good day in the field and a good day on the mound. A complete team victory with impressive performances all around could be enough to rejuvenate the entire roster, and give them the chance to build on the momentum.
The Phillies present a great opportunity for the Marlins to do just that. They have only scored 32 runs in their first fourteen games and are near the bottom of the league in many team statistic categories. They are rebuilding and lack significant star talent, unlike the Nationals who Miami faces after the conclusion of the road trip. The Fish need to get into some sort of rhythm to have any chance against Washington. Giancarlo Stanton is starting to heat up, but he can't put the whole team on his back.
Alternatively, if the Marlins fail to take two of three from the Phillies, the Fish may be looking for a new manager. It is unheard of for a manager to be fired so early in the season, but something would need to be changed, and owner Jeffrey Loria and his lack of patience may see firing Redmond as the only option. Some would argue that this isn't fair, but this is what happens all too often is sports.
Miami has two must-win games in the next two days. Can they snap out of their struggles and play up to their full potential? Only time will tell, but their manager's fate might depend on it.