The weekend of August 12-14 was a huge series for the Miami Marlins. On August 13, The Chicago White Sox were in town for interleague play, and the Marlins had already lost to the Sox the previous night. The game was a back-and-forth battle with the lead exchanging between teams three times in the game. White Sox start James Shields was knocked out of the match after just three innings, due to giving up ten hits and seven earned runs. For the Marlins, Adam Conley only last four innings, surrendering five earned runs on five hits.
The rest of the game was a battle of the bullpens. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and his team down by a run, Giancarlo Stanton tried to be a difference maker. He hit a single to right-center field, relatively shallow. Despite the shallowness of the ball, he tried stretching a single into a double, and Adam Eaton easily tossed him out at second base. The White Sox won, the Marlins lost, but the Marlins lost more than just the game. They lost Giancarlo Stanton for three weeks. Those three weeks single-handedly knocked the Marlins out of playoff contention.
At the time of the game, the Marlins found themselves in contention for the Wild Card, playing meaningful games. Since the time Giancarlo Stanton went out, the Marlins have gone 7-14 in his absence. Some low-lights of the team in his absence deal involve losing every series they played without him; including being swept by the New York Mets, losing to the lowly Padres and losing to the Phillies
The exclamation mark on this stretch came a week ago in Cleveland against the Indians. Miami got off to a 1-0 lead in the third inning, then tacked on a second run in the seventh.
Cleveland responded with three runs and taking over the lead in the bottom of the seventh before the Marlins tied it up in the eighth. Miami took a two-run lead in the top of the ninth, and all they needed to do in the bottom of the inning was hold on to the lead. They sent their closer, Fernando Rodney, to the mound to collect the save; instead, it all unraveled apart. Rodney gave up all three earned runs and blew the lead with two outs in the ninth.
As the game ended, the cameras panned to the Miami dugout, and the look of defeat that wore on the faces of all of the Miami players was very similar to that seen when a playoff team loses game seven. All of the Marlins in the dugout knew that this was a stinging loss. Since that loss, the team has gone 2-3, with two of those losses coming at the hands of the lowly Phillies.
With 19 games left in the season, the Marlins find themselves 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. They do have seven left with the last-place Braves, and three more against the second-to-last Phillies. Then they square off six more times against the division-leading Nationals and three more against the New York Mets. Despite the fact that their final stretch of the season is all against division opponents, it appears as if the Miami Marlins are going to be dead in the water.
The most frustrating piece of this puzzle is how unnecessary the injury to Giancarlo Stanton was. First off, the Marlins were down a run with two outs. They didn’t have anyone else in scoring position. The ball was not hit deep enough to consider trying for an extra base. Adam Eaton is an above-average fielder. Plus, he took a terrible slide into second base. Had he settled for a single and let the rest of the gameplay itself out (win or lose), he could have remained in the Marlins’ lineup for the last three weeks, and perhaps the season would have shaken out differently.
Stanton is the leader of Miami’s clubhouse, he is the highest-paid player on the team, and he is the face of the franchise. It is imperative that he does everything he can to remain in Miami’s lineup to help the team contribute. While the Marlins have young talents like Derek Dietrich, J.T. Realmuto, and Christian Yellich, at the end of the day Stanton is the spark that ignites the lineup, and this injury demonstrated how much this team relies on his production in the middle of the lineup.