The Miami Marlins (73-82) nearly forced extra innings in the desert on Sunday, but with the bases loaded in the ninth, J.D. Martinez’s line drive soared over Marcell Ozuna’s out-stretched glove, sealing a 3-2 Diamondbacks win (90-66). Incredibly, it’s the fifth walk-off loss the Fish have suffered in September.
A Brewers loss earlier in the afternoon ensured the D-backs a postseason berth as one of the National League’s Wild Card teams. Thanks to the Fish’s shaky relief work, they had reason to celebrate on the field before popping bottles in the clubhouse.
It’s an “accomplishment” for Miami, too! This clinches an eighth consecutive losing season for the franchise. Unfortunately, that is the longest active streak of its kind.
Dan Straily completed six strong innings, hoping the ‘pen could preserve his 2-1 lead. Chris O’Grady navigated the seventh without much trouble, but Brad Ziegler coughed up a run the following inning on Daniel Descalso’s game-tying single. Then, Justin Nicolino immediately made a mess of the ninth, issuing a leadoff walk and misplaying the ensuing sacrifice bunt.
Don Mattingly got funky from there. He ordered an intentional walk of David Peralta to load the bases with nobody out. Going all-in for a force out at home plate, Ozuna swapped gloves to form a five-man infield. It almost worked—Nicolino and Javy Guerra got Ketel Marte and Paul Goldschmidt, respectively, to both hit harmless grounders. Then Martinez sent the crowd home happy.
Overshadowed by that late-inning letdown, Straily’s secondary pitches were sharp all afternoon. He leaned heavily on them for nine strikeouts, raising his season total to 167. That’s a new career high, surpassing the 162 he racked up in 2016 with the Reds. His Game Score of 66 was the best by any Marlins starter since Dillon Peters’ major league debut on Sept. 1.
There was a moment of levity when Mattingly met Straily on the mound with two outs in the sixth. He didn’t signal for relief help, but O’Grady had other ideas.
One-run losses like Sunday’s have played a huge role in derailing the Marlins’ 2017 season. They own a 16-22 record in those scenarios, including 2-9 in the past 11.
The bullpen was an obvious culprit against Arizona, but don’t let the offense off the hook, either. The Marlins seemed to have Patrick Corbin on the ropes during his second pass through the lineup, working plenty of deep counts.
And then...nothing. From the fifth inning on, they combined for one measly hit (Tyler Moore’s seventh-inning single). Corbin retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced.
The Marlins have now lost four straight road series. Their next—and last—chance to turn that around starts Monday in Colorado.