With two outs and the pitcher at bat, that elusive third out evaded Andrew again. Three singles later, the bases were loaded, and Miller hit Chase Utley to score the first run of the game. Things went (even more) downhill from there. By the time he was yanked, Andrew had given up four runs on six hits and four walks.
In the final game recap of the 2009 season, it would be superb to declare that the Marlins finally managed to hold onto one of the half-dozen or so leads they had in the game, and pull out the victory to end the year with a bang.
But unless we just ignore the box score and make up our own magical fairy tale of a season finale, the news is not all that thrilling.
Both Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu were out of Sunday’s lineup due to injuries. The Phil’s lineup was also void of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who are clearly in need of much beauty rest, and had the day off.
In what became sort of a late season tradition, the Marlins put two runs on the board in the first inning. Coghlan wasted no time securing last-minute NL ROY votes as he led off the game with a single, advanced to third on Cameron Maybin’s double, and scored on a sac fly from Nick Johnson. With two out, Ronny Paulino doubled in Maybin to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.
Josh Johnson was on the hill in his final start of 2009 and looked good through the first three innings. In the fourth, though, Josh gave up two runs to tie up the game. Miguel Cairo homered to lead off the inning, and Jayson worth followed with a hit, stole second and third, and scored on Ben Francisco’s single.
The Fish reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth when they loaded the bases with one out. JJ and Nick Johnson walked, and Coghlan singled to load them for Wes Helms, who drove in two on a single to right field. Dan Uggla followed with an RBI single, and the Marlins were back in the lead at 5-3.
For about ten minutes.
In the bottom of the inning, JJ got into trouble and erased the Marlins lead yet again. Andy Tracy tripled and scored on a single by Eric Bruntlett, and Victorino and Dobbs both followed with RBI hits to once again tie the score.
JJ’s afternoon and season were over with two out in the fifth, after he gave up five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3. He finished the season 15-5.
It didn’t take long for the Marlins to once again nab the lead. Chris Coghlan, who finished the game 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored (and an even stronger case for the NL Rookie of the Year award), grounded into a fielder’s choice in the sixth inning to score Emilio Bonifacio and put the Marlins up 6-5.
After two scoreless innings from Burke Badenhop, Ross Gload pinch hit for Hop in the top of the eighth and singled, giving him 21 pinch-hits on the year. With the single, Ross Gload and Wes Helms became the second pair of teammates since 1900 to have 38 pinch hits.
In the bottom of the eighth, it was time for another Marlins lead-relinquish. Miguel Cairo tripled off of Kiko Calero to open the inning, and scored on a throwing error by Dan Uggla to yet again tie the game.
The Marlins didn’t appear to be ready to let go of the season, and so Renyel Pinto tossed a scoreless ninth to force extra innings. But in the bottom of the tenth, Florida’s luck ran out. Dan Meyer gave up a single to Mayberry to lead off the inning, and after an intentional walk to Jayson Werth, Paul Hoover lined a single to score Mayberry and end the game.
The Marlins finish the season 87 and 75, in second place in the NL East, and surrounded by rumors of the possible removal of Fredi Gonzalez, who led the Fish this season to their third-most wins in the history of the franchise.
Ah, the joys of Marlins baseball.
After the Fish dropped the first two games of the series and saw Saturday’s promising start by Josh Johnson rained out, the Marlins needed Big Game Andrew to come up with a quality outing to give the team a chance to salvage at least one game of the series.
Instead, Miller chose the finale against the Phillies to have the exact opposite of a quality outing, and pitch horrendously (which may be putting it mildly).
In the top of the first on Sunday afternoon at Land Shark Stadium, sighs of relief were breathed when a wild Miller managed to wiggle out of a bases-loaded situation without the Phillies scoring, thanks in part to a heads up play by Emilio Bonifacio. But BGA wasn’t so lucky in the second.
We’re not exactly sure at which point Miller decided that less than three innings was anywhere remotely close to an acceptable start, but for the second game in a row he lasted only 2 2/3.
To be fair, Andrew Miller could have pitched a perfect game, and it would not necessarily have earned him the win on an afternoon when the Marlins lineup was playing a delightful game of “Who Can Leave the Most Men On.” Of course, HLD&S would never dream of taking anything away from talented Phillies rookie J.A. Happ–we tip our cap to you, sir– but the Fish did their best to make him look good on the mound Sunday afternoon. For real. When the bases are loaded and there are no outs, not scoring would seem to require a lot more effort than just giving in and putting a run or two on the board.
For the second game in the series the Marlins matched the Phillies in hits, but completely failed to hit when it actually mattered. The Fish blew every chance they were given, went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and were shut out by the Phils for the second time in the series. It actually caused us physical pain to watch.
The one thing Marlins fans had to cheer about in an otherwise maddening game was the bullpen, which pieced things together admirably after Miller hit the showers. Brian Sanches pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, Burke Badenhop struck out the side in the top of the fifth and tossed a scoreless 6th, Luis Ayala and Renyel Pinto followed with scoreless innings of their own, and after Dan Meyer gave up a run, Brendan Donnelly handled the last two outs of the ninth. Unfortunately, their very nice effort was wasted due to the fact that–as previously mentioned–NO ONE on the Marlins squad could manage to hit with runners in scoring position.
The Marlins have lost three in a row, have dropped every single game they have played against the Phils at Land Shark this season, and fall to seven games behind their division rivals as they head back out West to face several teams that, unfortunately, are not the Nationals.
HLD&S is officially depressed.
Rick Vanden Hurk has been called up to start Monday night in San Diego. Andy Gonzalez was optioned to AAA to make room for the Incredible Hurk on the roster.