Series like this one — a three-game road sweep at the hands of the Colorado Rockies — seemed inevitable down the stretch for the Miami Marlins.
Sunday stung a little bit more, though.
Garrett Hampson’s 10th-inning, series-sweep-securing walk-off single against Jeff Brigham sealed the Marlins’ 7-6 loss, negated a three-run ninth-inning rally and continued Miami’s slide that has now extended over the past three weeks.
But the late innings Sunday provided waves of emotions for the Marlins (45-78) after they lost the lead in the eighth on a Nolan Arenado two-run home run against Austin Brice, regained it in the top of the ninth with a three-run rally and saw it quickly disintegrate in the bottom half of the ninth before ultimately losing in the 10th.
“The last two innings got a little crazy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Miami (45-78) has dropped five of its last six sets, with a four-game split against the Atlanta Braves the lone outlier. In that span, The Marlins have lost nine consecutive road games and 15 of 19 overall.
But in these times, these final six-plus weeks of a long season, the Marlins are trying to find the inklings of progress hidden within the losses.
Like with Jordan Yamamoto, who on Sunday had his best start since the All-Star Break after giving up at least four earned runs over each of his past five starts. The rookie righty struck out a career-high nine batters and gave up just two runs — solo home runs to Arenado in the first and Charlie Blackmon in the sixth — over 5 2/3 innings of work.
“Just trying to be better every outing,” Yamamoto said. “Even if it’s just a couple things here and there, I’ll take it.”
Like with Isan Diaz, who is getting an extended look at second base over the final two months of the season. He hit an opposite field single to lead off Sunday’s game and scored on Starlin Castro’s RBI double to center field one pitch later. His ninth-inning sacrifice fly that scored Lewis Brinson served as the go-ahead run before his errors in the bottom of the ninth and 10th allowed the Rockies (57-67) to continue their rally and win in extra innings.
“I just have to learn from it,” Diaz said of the errors.
Like with Garrett Cooper, who responded from a day off Friday to go 4 for 9 with two doubles, a home run and two RBI in the final two games of the series. He scored twice on Sunday and is now on a nine-game hitting streak.
Like with Brinson, who continues to show his defensive value while trying to find his stride at the plate. Brinson made three big plays in center field over the first two games of the series to follow up his diving grab in the series finale against the Dodgers on Thursday. He hit a double in the ninth inning on Sunday after being robbed of a home run and an extra-base hit on Saturday.
Like with Harold Ramirez, who went 3 for 4 with a walk and two RBI on Sunday after hitting just .204 (11 for 54) over his last 17 games.
Like with Sandy Alcantara, who strung together his third consecutive solid start in Friday’s loss after struggling after his All-Star Game appearance. Alcantara, the hard-throwing 23-year-old righty, gave up just two earned runs over seven innings against the Rockies. His lone blemish: a second-inning home run on a back-door slider that leaked over the middle of the plate. Alcantara has posted a 3.20 ERA (seven earned runs in 19 2/3 innings) over his last three starts.
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Appreciating the foresight, however, is not always easy to do given the circumstances. The losses are picking up and the Marlins inching closer and closer to that 100-loss benchmark teams hope to avoid, but they give a glimpse of what Miami has at its disposal as it aims to become a more competitive club sooner rather than later.
The Marlins are playing with even more of a hodgepodge roster than they had at the start of the year as the franchise continues on with the second year of its latest rebuild.
The bullpen is still a major work in progress since they shipped away their two best relievers in Sergio Romo and Nick Anderson as well as starter-turned reliever Trevor Richards in an attempt to add power bats to their organization.
The starting rotation has been shaky since the All-Star Break after the Marlins traded Zac Gallen to the Arizona Diamondbacks and with regulars Pablo Lopez and Jose Urena still on the injured list.
And the offense, outside of those rare moments when everything clicks, has steadily been ineffective. Miami consistently needs to rely on a small-ball approach to manufacture runs with a lineup void of multiple true power hitters.
So the Marlins will revel in the small victories.
This and that
▪ The Marlins lost their MLB-leading 18th game this season — and second this series — in which they out-hit their opponent. Miami had 11 hits on Sunday. The Rockies had ten.
▪ Sunday marked the first time the Rockies swept the Marlins since April 28-30, 2006.