Besides a return to form by staff ace Jose Fernandez, the Marlins had little to cheer about throughout their series against the defending World Series champions.
The second-best hitting team in the National League, while racking up 22 hits, was limited to five runs over the three game set as the Marlins were unable to take advantage of the momentum they gained in Pittsburgh.
Even though the Cardinals lost two games out of three to the Mets during the same time frame and, therefore, the Marlins did not lose any ground in the Wild Card standings, they let a golden opportunity to potentially leapfrog St. Louis and regain that second Wild Card spot go down the drain.
The number of games remaining is dwindling, and Miami is nowhere near playing their best baseball of the season. A lot of that has to do with the plethora of injuries, which have come at the worst possible time.
Although Giancarlo Stanton is fully preparing to return from his Grade 3 groin strain before the end of the season, it might be too little too late for Miami. The positional depth of this organization has been in question since Opening Day, so the addition of Jeff Francoeur via a three-team trade during the series was a welcomed move.
However, with the likes of Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Conley, Justin Bour, Stanton, and now Derek Dietrich on the DL, this roster is being stretched way too thinly, and it is a credit to the remaining players that this team is still in the thick of the playoff hunt.
The Royals were always going to be a tough challenge for the Marlins, even with the home crowd at Marlins Park, but after the sweep of the Pirates they could have (and should have) played better.
Just look at the 5-2 loss to end the series. Miami was 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and also committed three defensive errors; not stats you would normally associate with a playoff-bound team.
To be the best you have to beat the best, and the Marlins were not able to do that on this occasion. Fortunately, the last-place Padres now come in to town in what could be a perfect bounce-back series to rejuvenate Miami’s playoff hopes.
The Marlins have a great chance to get back on track this weekend against a few familiar faces. They are doing well to hang in there without key players, who may well return in time to have an impact on this playoff race.
Anything less than a series win, though, and this club will have some serious soul-searching to do.