Losing has finally come back to bite the Marlins.
After somehow managing to keep the same distance behind the Wild Card leaders over the last week or so, the 2-1 loss to the Mets Monday night meant that Miami fell two and a half games behind St. Louis in the Wild Card race, and was drawn into a tie with New York for second in the NL East.
Following the tone set over the past few weeks, Miami’s bats were extremely quiet in the loss. The Marlins left 10 runners on base over the ten inning affair and could only muster a .200 batting average with runners in scoring position.
All of these figures compile to reinforce an alarming fact: Miami has been the lowest-scoring team in baseball since the calendar flipped to August. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the Marlins have gone 10-16 this month at a time when they were supposed to be gearing up for a playoff push.
Alarmingly, this collective slump at the plate is getting worse; they have scored only 14 runs over their past seven games, and have recorded three runs or less in eight of the last nine games.
These offensive struggles have not been mirrored by pitching woes, though. In fact, the starting pitching performances the Marlins have been seeing have been one of the only bright spots for this club as of late. However, most of them have been wasted.
It is hard not to see the irony in this as, for most of the year, it has been the pitching that has let this ball club down, even Jose Fernandez has not been his usual self at times (although he deserves credit for his last two starts).
Just consider how much more dynamic Miami’s offense was earlier in the year. Giancarlo Stanton was producing monster home runs left, right, and center (as per usual), Marcell Ozuna played so well that he was named an All-Star, Justin Bour was an effective secondary power threat and Ichiro Suzuki was proving to be a super-sub.
Now, Stanton and Bour are sidelined with injuries, Ichiro’s impact has taken a hit after being called upon to play almost every day and Ozuna has returned to the lows of last season as he is batting .184 over his last 30 games.
The playoffs were an overly-optimistic goal for this team at the start of the season, but now that they are entering the stretch run in the thick of the playoff chase, the bats seem to be crumbling under the pressure to succeed.
Moves were made to improve the team’s pitching this summer, and things have improved, but the offense was ignored before the deadline and that might come back to haunt them.
With Stanton out until at least the last week of the season, will anyone be able to step up and carry this team with their bat, or will Miami have to wait another year for glory?