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MIA 7, PIT 8; Another high-leverage choke job

The Marlins remain winless on their road trip after pissing away a late-inning lead (again).

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly (8) looks on from the dugout during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to concoct a more painful road trip than what the Miami Marlins are currently enduring. Consider the number and nature of their losses, the severity of their injuries and the impact that all of this is having on their 2021 goals. Despite a surprisingly productive day for this mediocre offense, the Marlins’ losing streak extended to eight in a row. The last time this franchise had such a long streak was May 15-22, 2015—manager Mike Redmond was fired in the midst of that.

  • Trevor Rogers—6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 24.5 CSW% (94 pitches)
  • Chase De Jong—5.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 3 HR, 25.0 CSW% (84 pitches)

Don Mattingly opted to rest several of his most powerful bats on Saturday, so Trevor Rogers probably figured his margin of error was slim (Mattingly later revealed that Garrett Cooper was sidelined due to back stiffness). When Adam Frazier added to his MLB-leading hit total by stroking a two-out, two-run single to left field in the second inning, the Marlins’ outlook looked bleak.

However, Rogers thrived from there. The NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced en route to another quality start. His four-seam fastball velocity maxed out at 98.0 miles per hour and averaged 94.7, an encouraging uptick compared to where he had been the previous two outings.

The story of Chase De Jong’s afternoon was the polar opposite. He threw up zeroes initially, then was pulverized during his second and third trips through the Marlins lineup.

Jesús Aguilar put Miami on the scoreboard first with a no-doubt solo blast to left in the top of the fourth. That’s his 11th home run of the season, all of them occurring in road games.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. propelled the Marlins ahead, 3-2, with a two-run moonshot.

Then Jorge Alfaro added insurance with the longest long ball of them all—a projected distance of 432 feet, according to Statcast.

Even against a talent-deprived Pirates team, that three-run lead didn’t feel completely safe considering Miami’s recent late-inning failures. The Marlins had opportunities to pad that cushion. Lewis Brinson’s line drive down the left field line barely missed the pole. Chisholm was stranded in the top of the eighth after a one-out double. Alas, nothing to show for it.

Trusted with a 5-2 advantage (the Marlins had an estimated 92% win probability), Anthony Bass and Anthony Bender squandered all that hard work. The right-handers combined to allow two hits, two walks and a hit batsmen in the bottom of the eighth.

With the Marlins still up 5-4 and one more out to get, Bender got the weak contact he needed...and dropped the ball (literally).

Because those runs scored on Bender’s own error, they officially count as unearned. Bender’s career earned run average remains 0.00, but he was anything but immaculate in this situation.

Impressively, the Marlins rallied against mighty Pittsburgh closer Richard Rodríguez. Aguilar’s RBI single made it 6-6. It was his fourth hit of the contest, establishing a new career-high.

The Fish retook the lead in the 10th, manufacturing a run after being gifted an automatic runner on second base. The Bucs answered back against Yimi García who unfortunately gets charged with a blown save. It’s his third straight appearance allowing runs of some kind.

On a day when Rogers gave the Marlins exactly what they wanted in terms of length and effectiveness, Mattingly ultimately cycled through seven relievers anyway. The final man out of the ‘pen was Adam Cimber who missed middle-middle with a fastball and Jacob Stallings lined it to center for the 12th-inning walk-off single.

It was a relatively quiet performance for Pittsburgh third baseman/franchise cornerstone Ke’Bryan Hayes (1-for-6). Newly recalled Marlins right-hander Zach Thompson was just a spectator in this one, but is poised to make his MLB debut in the coming days if a low-leverage situation presents itself.

With Miguel Rojas out, with Brian Anderson out, with Elieser Hernandez out, with Cody Poteet out, with Sixto Sánchez stuck in the Matrix, the Marlins do not have the talent on their active roster to be consistently good. By the time that those and other reinforcements are ready to return, they’ll be buried too deep in the NL East cellar for it to matter. Sure, their current 24-33 record is skewed by an absurd 4-12 mark in one-run games, but those defeats are indelible. Tough luck. The team’s goals and the fans’ expectations for the rest of the 2021 campaign should be adjusted accordingly.

Right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Chad Kuhl are lined up to start Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. ET series finale at PNC Park. If the Bucs win that one to complete the sweep, these teams will have identical records.

Win Probability Chart - Marlins @ Pirates - 2021-06-05 Baseball Savant

Fish Picks Answer Key

  1. Over
  2. Over
  3. Yes
  4. No
  5. Pirates