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Bullpen, defense falter in Marlins’ extra-inning, walk-off loss

Standout performances by Jordan Yamamoto and Harold Ramirez and a three-run rally in the top of the ninth were all for naught as the Marlins get swept.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

This playing-out-the-string Marlins roster is engineered to lose. Exhibit A was Sunday’s 7-6, extra-inning walk-off loss to the Rockies. That completed a series sweep and dropped Miami to a season-worst 33 games below the .500 mark.

Yamamoto was good! The rookie right-hander had his best outing since the All-Star break, relying more than usual on his cutter en route to a career-high nine strikeouts.

Making his first-ever start in Denver’s unique atmospheric conditions, Yams was unsurprisingly hurt by the long ball. Negating a Starlin Castro RBI double in the top of the first, Nolan Arenado blasted his 29th home run of the season to even things up at 1-1.

Harold Ramirez drove home insurance runs in both the fourth and sixth innings to give the Marlins some breathing room. Ramirez also matched a personal best by reaching base safely four times.

Facing adversity the third time through the Rockies lineup, Yamamoto allowed a solo homer to Charlie Blackmon, trimming the lead to 3-2.

After putting the potential tying run on base, Don Mattingly went to Jarlin García out of the bullpen. The lefty escaped the sixth inning with the lead intact, then worked a scoreless seventh as well.

The thing is, this post-trade deadline Marlins ‘pen has no other adequate options beyond him. Mattingly had to try, but Austin Brice remains in a slump since his return from the injured list. Brice served up a homer for the fourth consecutive appearance, this time with Arenado coming through in the clutch.

Credit to the Marlins batters for continuing to battle. Neil Walker, Isan Díaz and Brian Anderson each pushed across a run against Wade Davis in the top of the ninth. Once again, the visitors seemingly had control of the game.

Ryne Stanek entered with a 6-4 lead and an opportunity to nail down his first career save. You knew immediately that it’d be a turbulent experience once he issued a leadoff walk. Colorado’s rally took off from there when Díaz botched a routine grounder at second base to put runners on the corners, and Blackmon followed with a well-placed bloop single. Trevor Story evened the score at 6-6 with a sacrifice fly.

Jeff Brigham gets tagged with the loss as the Rockies manufactured their seventh run against him thanks to a fielder’s choice and series of singles.

Whether you want to call it “tanking” is entirely up to you, but the Marlins aren’t optimized to win with this personnel. Sure, Díaz deserves everyday reps to tap into his Top 100 prospect potential, and it’s easier to make a judgement on Lewis Brinson’s future when he competes at the major league level. Fans can live with their mistakes.

That being said, the bullpen is demoralizing on a daily basis. With the most trustworthy high-leverage arms dealt to other teams and arsonists Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley hogging roster spots, the talent simply isn’t there. The front office has decided that securing premium 2020 draft position trumps building any kind of on-field momentum heading into the winter.

For the next leg of their road trip, the Marlins meet the Braves in Atlanta beginning Tuesday. Elieser Hernandez and Dallas Keuchel are probable starters for the series opener (7:20 p.m. first pitch).

Marlins vs. Rockies box score (Baseball Theater)

Fish Picks answer key

  1. Rockies
  2. Over
  3. Over
  4. No
  5. Rockies