Obviously, it isn’t possible. But even if it were, despite going three for four with a walk and five RBI, Brian McCann wasn’t the real problem for the Marlins as they faced off with the Braves at Turner Field to end their road trip.
The problem, once again, was pitching.
Ricky Nolasco went with the recent trend of Marlins starters and struggled in the first inning. He issued two walks before Brian McCann began his one-man assault of Florida with a home run that gave the Braves a 3-0 lead.
Ricky would last just 4 1/3 innings against Atalnta. He allowed four runs on eight hits and walked three before being lifted in the fifth with one out and the bases loaded. Cristhian Martinez was one bright spot in the bullpen as he entered the game to work out of Ricky’s jam and hold the Braves to four runs.
The good news for the Marlins was that Derek Lowe didn’t exactly have the most memorable afternoon on the mound himself. The pitcher went five innings and gave up five runs, including a three-run double by Catcher Ronny Paulino that put the Fish ahead 5-4 in the fourth inning.
The Marlins maintained their lead through six innings, and it was all downhill from there. Kiko Calero pitched the seventh and gave up the game-tying run, and then came the delight that was the bottom of the eighth. Calero walked Omar Infante to start the inning before Renyel Pinto came in and joined the fun with a walk to Kelly Johnson. After Chipper Jones grounded out, Brian McCann was at it again, this time with a single off of Pinto that scored two runs and gave Atlanta a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Ricky Nolasco and the bullpen walked eight Braves Sunday, and four of McCann’s five RBI were the result of those walks. Bottom line? Brian McCann had a good afternoon at the plate, but he didn’t cost the Marlins the game. If our pitchers weren’t tossing out free passes like candy at a parade, McCann could just as easily have put a single run on the board for the Braves, rather than five.
So behind some weak starting pitching, and less-than-inspiring pitching from a few of our relievers as well, the Fish dropped their second game–and second series–in a row.
I need to look it up in my baseball manual to be sure, but I’m almost positive this isn’t how you go about winning the Wild Card.
The Fish were kind enough to remind us Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
Josh Johnson was completely out of character on the mound as he played the role of a mere mortal in the series finale with the Astros. JJ lasted just 4 1/3 innings and gave up 4 runs on seven hits, which marked only the third time this season that he has allowed more than three earned runs in a start. (JJ allowed 6 runs on April 18th and 4 runs on August 4th, both–interestingly–in starts against the Nationals.)
Less than sharp through the first three innings, Johnson still managed to hold the Astros scoreless. And then Carlos Lee continued his campaign to become HLD&S’s least-favorite Astro when he crushed another home run in the series, a 2-run shot in the fourth to put Houston on the board and in the lead. Hunter Pence followed Lee with a long ball of his own, and stretched the Astros lead to two runs.
In the fifth, Josh was in trouble again. He gave up a double to Quintero before Wandy Rodriguez forgot he was a pitcher and doubled to drive in a run. JJ went on to load the bases with one out, and thus ended his night on the mound.
Cristhian Martinez finished the inning by inducing a double play, and tossed 2 2/3 scorelesss innings in relief of Johnson. He was thanked for his efforts by being demoted immediately following the game.
A three-run deficit doesn’t seem insurmountable at all, but that’s only if you’re going to get hits and score and stuff. It didn’t appear the Fish were in the mood to do any of the above, and not only did the Marlins’ streak of series wins come to an end Thursday night, the team’s double-digit hit streak was also snapped as the lineup struggled to get much of anything done against Wandy Rodriguez.
Rodriguez threw a bunch of pitches in a shaky first inning and loaded the bases with Fish thanks to walks and a throwing error by Tejada. Then the scoring started for the Fish when Bonifacio walked and then scored on Uggla’s RBI fielders choice.
Unfortunately, that is also where the scoring ended for the Fish.
After his first-inning struggles, Wandy lasted through eight for Houston and allowed just 4 hits to the Marlins lineup. So, once again the Marlins started a game with promise only to fizzle out offensively.
If you’re looking for a bright spot in the loss, Hanley did manage to extend his hitting streak to 15 games on an infield single. OK, so maybe that’s more of a dimly-lit spot than a bright one, but it’s all we’ve got.
The Phillies and Rockies won, of course, because it would just be too much to ask either team to ever lose, and the Marlins slipped back another game both in the Wild Card and the NL East.
Gee, I hope you enjoyed the bullpen’s gift to you– Cristhian Martinez, who came into the game and erased all of the good you did on one lousy pitch to Mark Reynolds. Nothing says “happy birthday” quite like a blown save. (It was nice to see your teammates all pitch in with sixteen strikeouts, too. I’m sure that was on the top of your birthday wish list as well.)
The icing on the cake? The Marlins just dropped three of four to a team with one of the worst records in baseball, and sink four games under .500.
This losing business is getting really, really old.