April and May of 2011 were kind months to the then Florida Marlins. The Marlins were 31-22, two games out of first place in the National League East and two games up in the wild card. Then came the epic collapse that was June. Last June, the Fish went just 5-23 and fell from wild card leader to cellar dweller at 36-45. The June would ultimately lead to the firing of manager Edwin Rodriguez, the Major League’s first Puerto Rican born manager. It was also a month that the Marlins would never recover from as they finished just 72-90.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, it seems to be happening again. Miami looked to have survived a terrible April. The Fish finished the month of April with just an 8-14 record, but Miami was able to put together the best May in baseball. After taking two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies to begin the month of June, the Fish drew even with the Washington Nationals for first place in the N.L. East. Since then however, the Marlins have won just one of their last 10 games which has fans and players alike, remembering the monstrosity that was June of 2011.
The problems that the Marlins are having this June are a lot like the ones they had last June. The offense is anemic and the pitching staff can’t seem to avoid the big inning. During the 10-game stretch, the Fish have been held to two runs of fewer eight times. Four times during this stretch, the Marlins have given up 10 runs or more. To make matters worse, Miami is coming off of a 1-8 home-stand. But hitting the road didn’t seem to help Miami much either. In their first road game since downing the Phillies to take the series in Philadelphia, the Fish were blanked 11-0 by the in-state rival Tampa Bay Rays. Not only did the Marlins get absolutely pounded, they managed just one hit in the loss.
Record wise, Miami is 3-10 in June and is on pace to do better than the team did a year ago, but the verdict is out as to which June has been more painful. Last June, the Fish suffered a number of heartbreaking losses. Last June, the Marlins lost 13 games by one run and four in extra innings. This month, the Marlins are just getting pounded. To illustrate how bad it has been, the Marlins have been outscored 67-17 over the last 10 games and not one of their last nine losses have come from a reliever. There has been no drama, no dramatic heartbreaking losses, only good old fashioned butt-kickings. Another illustration of how bad it has been is that the Marlins have a better record than six teams in the National League, but their run differential is better than only the Chicago Cubs’ and San Diego’s. Over the last 10 games, the Marlins have also managed to fall from first place to seven games back of the Nationals.
While it’s been a team effort during this dismal stretch, many individuals have struggled as well. Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins’ RBI leader who was once among the league leaders in RBIs, has not driven in a run in more than a week. Carlos Zambrano, who was in the midst of an incredible turnaround season, looked to have a shot to sneak into the All-Star Game. In his last two starts, Zambrano has failed to go more than 2 1/3 innings. First baseman Gaby Sanchez and outfielder Chris Coghlan once appeared to be two of the brightest spots concerning the Marlins’ future. This season, both have at times been demoted to the minor leagues and both are hitting below .200 on the season.
If there is good news for the Fish, it is that despite this horrendous 10-game stretch, Miami is still just three games back of that final wild card spot. Josh Johnson, who has been the Marlins’ ace over the past few years, has also shown signs of returning to form. As in any baseball season, there will be stretches of tremendous highs and stretches like, well this one. But if the Marlins are to avoid falling into obscurity as they did a year ago, this slide will need to be stopped rather quickly.
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