The Miami Marlins were riding high after 4-3 Friday night win over the New York Mets. The team ran off six straight wins and vaulted to the top of the NL East. But moving into the weekend, Marlins bats fell silent and the pitchers weren’t as sharp, especially during Sunday’s loss.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins loss to the Mets.
Needed the Big Hit
This Marlins loss, and the one that preceded it on Saturday, were frustrating. Not because the revamped roster and piecemeal pitching staff were overmatched. No, the most frustrating element proved to be the lack of timely hitting.
On Sunday afternoon, the Marlins went 2-for10 with runners in scoring position. In all, they stranded 10 runners. Each inning saw at least one Marlin reach base, but the team managed just two runs.
In the second inning, the Marlins had two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom on the ropes. They’d loaded the bases with one out, but followed that with a strikeout and ground out, producing no runs.
This followed a similar refrain from Saturday, where the Marlins went 2-for-7 with runners-in-scoring-position. They stranded nine runners in the 8-4 loss.
“We just didn’t get that big hit,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after the game. “Didn’t really capitalize.”
Bright Spot in the Marlins Loss: Eddy Alvarez
One of the bright spots over the weekend was the play of Eddy Alvarez. The Olympic speedskating medalist flashed his moxie on defense and provided a lift on offense.
On Friday, Alvarez stole an extra base-hit from Jeff McNeill in the eighth inning. He then knocked down Wilson Ramos’ two-out grounder with the bases loaded and recovered in time to throw out the slow-footed catcher to end the Mets’ rally.
Sunday saw Alvarez register his first hits in MLB. His first hit came on an infield single in the second inning against deGrom. In the fourth, he singled then stole second base (his first steal in MLB). Then in the eighth, Alvarez put a charge into the ball to the opposite field and picked up his first double.
Alvarez said after the game that getting that first hit lifted a weight off his shoulders. He also thought he’d tied the game for a moment in the eighth with his double. He has opposite field power and thought that hit had a chance to get out.
Bright Spot in the Marlins Loss: Jesus Aguilar
Before Sunday’s game, Mattingly praised Jesus Aguilar.
“Jesus has been great, in a lot of different areas,” he said. “He’s got plenty of power. This guy can hit, he’s got good hands. He’s got a good eye up there. He’s such a positive influence.” Mattingly went on to say that Aguilar’s personality has been “awesome” and that he’s a well-rounded hitter, not just a power threat.
During the game, Aguilar flashed that power on Sunday when he connected on his team-leading fourth home run of the season. His fifth inning blast off deGrom pulled the Marlins to within one run.
Six of Aguilar’s 11 hits this season have gone for extra bases (two doubles, four home runs). He leads the team in batting average (.306), slugging percentage (.694) and OPS (1.036). He’s second in RBI (8). This discounted both Miguel Rojas and Magneuris Sierra, who have 10 and nine at-bats apiece.
His bat in the middle of the lineup puts pressure on opposing pitchers, but he needs guys on in front of him in order to maximize the damage.
Monte Harrison & Jonathan Villar struggle
Both Monte Harrison and Jonathan Villar came to the plate on Sunday with a chance to break the game open. Neither hitter was able to have even a productive out, though. The two combined to go 0-for-9 total, including 0-for-6 with runners-in-scoring-position. They struck out a combined eight times and stranded 11 runners on base, which directly led to this Marlins loss.
With deGrom on the ropes early in the game, both Harrison came up with the bases loaded and one out in the second. He struck out. Villar followed with a soft groundball out to end the inning.
Harrison followed his decent Saturday performance (one hit, two RBI, two BB) by taking a significant step back. Harrison has nine times in 16 at-bats in his six games. Yes, he has game-changing speed, but he needs to be able to put the bat on the ball.
Villar struggled throughout the series. After going 6-for-14 with a homer, two RBI and two walks, Villar has gone hitless in his last two games. In the series versus the Mets, Villar went 1-1-15 with nine strikeouts. He was 0-for-5 with runners-in-scoring-position.
If the Marlins are going to be successful this season, they’ll need production from Villar and Harrison. These two hitters need to find a way out of their slumps and have productive at-bats for the team.
During the four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, the Marlins did all the little things. Productive outs, clean innings and no errors. This rag-tag group of Major Leaguers needs to be sharp in order to stay competitive and have a shot to win.
On Friday night, a Brian Anderson throwing error allowed the Mets to score a run in the eighth inning. It almost cost the Marlins the game. On Saturday, Anderson followed with another throwing error.
On Sunday, though, a pair of errors in the field cost the Marlins runs in what was ultimately a two-run loss. Corey Dickerson’s fielding error in the third inning cost Pablo Lopez a run. Dickerson botched a seemingly routine fly ball.
Later in the game, Matt Joyce nearly cost his team a run after a fielding error in right field. It took a highlight-reel play from Lopez to get Michael Conforto at home in the next at-bat.
If the Marlins are going to maintain their hold on the NL East and make a push for the playoffs, they’ll need a much cleaner effort than the one that came during this loss.