After winning their previous two series, the Miami Marlins hoped to go into Philadelphia and take care of business.
The Marlins have had success with the Phillies earlier this season, taking three out of four in their series back in April. So there was optimism that Miami would be able to beat them this go around. That was not the case.
Miami ended up losing two of three against Philadelphia and the talk of the series was the bullpen. Of course, it comes as no surprise because that’s been the Marlins’ biggest problem of the season. The starters are doing their jobs, but it seems like every time Miami turns to their bullpen, the game gets away from them.
A couple of bright spots to take away from the series is that designated hitter Jesus Aguilar has played a great last couple of games. Aguilar went 3-for-9 with a home run and four RBIs. And how about right fielder Avisail Garcia? The Marlins have been hoping that their big free agent signing was going to have the same amount of production as he did in Milwaukee last season when he batted .262 and had 29 home runs. After a slow start this season, it looks like the former all star is starting to get back to that form from last year. In Game 2, Garcia went 2-for-5 with a home run and a couple of RBIs.
At the end of the day, the Marlins weren’t able to get it done and they have a tough road ahead of them as they head to New York to take on the first place Mets.
Here are five takeaways from the series.
Why take out Sandy?
Marlins’ starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara had another stellar performance. Alcanatara pitched in the first game of the series and he was lights out, per usual.
Alcantara gave up an RBI single to designated hitter Bryce Harper in the bottom of the third inning, but after that, Alcantara settled back in and didn’t give up a run in the next few innings.
Now, we’ve reached the bottom of the eighth inning. Alcantara had given up two leadoff walks to put runners on first and second base with nobody out. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was up to bat and got jammed on an inside sinker by Alcantara that caused him to ground into a double play.
Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius was up to bat and all game long, Gregorius had struggled against Alcantara. Gregorius was 0-for-3 with a strikeout leading up to his at-bat in the eighth inning. Alcantara was ready to throw the pitch and then Marlins manager Don Mattingly came out of the dugout and told Alcantara that his night was done. Left-handed pitcher Steven Okert came out to face Gregorius and on Okert’s first pitch, Gregorius hit the ball down the right field line to tie the game 2-2. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.
Why did Mattingly take Alcantara out of the game? Maybe it was the pitch count because Alcantara was at 112 pitches. But even then, Alcantara didn’t show signs of slowing down. It was Alcantara’s game to finish and he didn’t get the opportunity to and he showed his frustration when he sat in the dugout after being pulled.
Trevor Rogers continues to struggle
Starting pitcher Trevor Rogers was set to take the mound for Game 2 of the series and from the get go, he wasn’t able to get comfortable.
Rogers logged just 3.2 innings pitched and gave up four earned runs, five hits, and a career-high six walks. What is really mind-boggling is that five of his six walks were to left-handed hitters. Three to left fielder Kyle Schwarber and the other two were to Harper. The walks to Harper were understandable because he has been on a tear as of late and it seemed like the Marlins’ game plan was to stay away from him as much as possible. But, to let Schwarber walk three times is truly puzzling. Schwarber has been batting just .202 against lefties this season and for Rogers to not get aggressive and throw pitches in the strike zone against him doesn’t make much sense.
After this start, Rogers’ ERA has shot up to 5.87 and he has given up a total of 28 walks so far this season, the tenth most in the MLB. Marlins fans have been hoping that Rogers would get back to his phenomenal play from last season where he was named an all star with a 2.64 ERA. But, how high is his confidence after this outing?
Miami didn’t have an answer for Rhys Hoskins
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins went absolutely crazy in the three games against Miami. Over the series, Hoskins went 8-for-13 with seven RBIs and a pair of home runs in Game 2.
In Game 1, Hoskins hit a walk-off single to give the Phillies a 3-2 win after a changeup by right-hander Anthony Bass was hit off the end of Hoskins’ bat that fell into no man’s land and gave the runner at second enough time to score.
It felt like everything the Marlins’ pitchers were throwing weren’t fooling Hoskins at the plate. Hoskins was the life of the Phillies’ offense and Miami couldn’t find a way to get their hottest hitter out.
Daniel Castano shines in his first start
With the injury to starting pitcher Pablo Lopez, Mattingly and the Marlins had to turn to someone else to make the start in Game 3 as a precautionary move. They didn’t want Lopez to risk hurting his hand even more and decided to give him a couple more days to rest.
So, the Marlins turned to left-hander Daniel Castano. Castano made a few appearances for Miami earlier this season, but as a relief-pitcher. Last season, Castano started games for Miami and had some success.
In Game 3 of the series, Castano pitched an incredible game. He pitched 6.2 innings and didn’t give up a run to the Phillies. His pitch count of 105 was the most he’s had in his three-year career. It seemed as if every inning, the Phillies would have runners in scoring position and he would find a way to get out of the jams whether it started with two, one, or zero outs in the inning. Castano found ways to stay composed on the mound and take care of business.
The bullpen is back to being subpar
After a great series against the Houston Astros, I thought that the bullpen finally got it together. But sadly, I was wrong.
Time and time again when it looks like the Marlins are in the driver’s seat for the length of the game, they lose control once the bullpen is called. This series was a prime example of that.
In Game 1, Alcantara had given up just one run through seven innings and when the bullpen entered the game, Miami lost the lead. They did eventually tie it back up but Hoskins hit the walk-off to give the Phillies the win.
In Game 2, the bullpen was in early because of Rogers’ rough outing. The score was tied at four by the time Rogers was pulled from the game. Right-handed relief pitcher Dylan Floro entered the game and the Phillies were all over him. Floro gave up four earned runs in just 0.2 innings of work. Fortunately, the Marlins were able to create enough offense to come back from a four-run deficit and win 11-9 in a roller coaster of a game.
And now the worst of all: Game 3. The Marlins had just one run all game that came off of a home run in the top of the fifth inning by shortstop Miguel Rojas. So, there wasn’t much room for error after Castano’s six shutout innings. Right-handers Tommy Nance and Anthony Bass did a good job in keeping the Phillies’ offense shutout. But in the bottom of the ninth inning, Miami turned to left-hander Tanner Scott to close out the game and leave Philadelphia with a series win.
Scott struck out Gregorius, gave up a single to third baseman Alec Bohm, walked Realmuto, and struck out infielder Yairo Munoz. Catcher Garrett Stubbs was the last hope for the Phillies and with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth, Scott threw a slider right over the heart of the plate that Stubbs crushed into the seats in right field to give the Phillies the win and the series. That’s now two walk off hits that Miami’s relievers have given up in the past three games. You really can’t make this stuff up.
“I thought he got away from his fastball a little bit,” Mattingly said about Scott’s last outing. “He kind of got predictable.”
Mattingly went on to say, “The guy (Stubbs) had a pretty good swing at his slider and took a couple of sliders. He left that one up.”
It feels as if every time Miami takes one step forward, they then take two steps back. That’s been the theme of the season so far.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Marlins can regain their confidence as they head into New York for their next series. They need to find a way to move on from these last tough couple of games and get focused for a great baseball team.
The Marlins play the Mets this weekend for a four-game series from Friday to Monday at Citi Field in New York.