Blame Marlins’ skid on poor clutch hitting
Ozzie Guillen gives himself a C-plus at best for the job he has
done with the Miami Marlins, and his lineup deserves an even lower
grade. When it comes to clutch hitting, the Marlins flunk too many
They batted .127 (8 for 63) with runners in scoring position
during a dismal homestand, which is the primary reason the Marlins
went 1-8. They began last week in a virtual tie for the NL East
lead, and they now begin a two-city trip seven games behind
division leader Washington.
”We’d better start hitting better if we want to win some
games,” Guillen said.
The Marlins rank near the bottom of the majors in runs, batting
average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. When they get
a runner to second or third, they’re even worse.
Miami is batting .218 with runners in scoring position,
third-worst in the majors. Logan Morrison (.149), John Buck (.171),
Omar Infante (.178) and Hanley Ramirez (.203) have all been awful
in those situations.
”Hopefully we turn it around quickly,” said leadoff hitter
Jose Reyes, who was stranded at third following a leadoff triple in
a 2-1 loss to Boston on Tuesday. ”One big hit is what we’re
One big hit is all the Marlins managed during a long stretch
last week when they went 1 for 33 with a runner at second or
”Very poor hitting with men on base,” Guillen said. ”It has
been happening almost all year. What’s the reason? I don’t know.
It’s kind of funny, because we get people in scoring position and
then we shut down. I don’t think we panic, but we need to do
Transformed by an offseason spending spree and the move into
their new ballpark, the Marlins expected to contend for a playoff
berth. In spring training, new manager Guillen touted his team as
well-balanced and ready to win.
But with 99 games to go, they’re barely above .500 (32-31),
which is why Guillen gives himself a grade of mediocre or
”C-plus or D,” he said, ”because I should be in first place
with this ballclub. I’ve got good players. I might not be getting
the best out of them. Not yet. Not consistently. Right now there
are a few players not responding the way they should, but I’m the
one that put them in the lineup, and I will take the blame.
”We have good enough talent to be consistent and compete. It’s
a little bit of a surprise, because I think we’re better than
In December, the Marlins signed All-Stars Reyes, Mark Buehrle
and Heath Bell to contracts worth a combined $191 million, but the
shopping binge may not have targeted enough offensive help. Buehrle
and Bell are pitchers, and Reyes isn’t an RBI man.
The Marlins came up short in courtships with Albert Pujols and
Yoenis Cespedes, leaving them with a group of holdover
run-producers who haven’t produced. Reyes has more RBIs (14) than
Gaby Sanchez or John Buck (13 each), an indication things aren’t
right with the lineup.
Roster shake-ups haven’t helped. Sanchez was exiled to Triple-A
for three weeks and has gone 2 for 15 since his return. Former NL
Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, hitting .140 in 93 at-bats, was
demoted after the homestand.
The biggest bright spot has been young slugger Giancarlo
Stanton, the NL Player of the Month for May, when he hit 12 home
runs. But teams increasingly pitch around him, and this month he’s
batting .222 with one homer.
The Marlins hit .196 overall during their homestand and were
outscored 56-17. Frustration peaked in the ninth inning Wednesday,
when Guillen had two testy exchanges with closer Bell, who lobbied
in vain to remain in the game with the Marlins trailing by eight
Both said they later patched up their differences.
”The way the team is playing, these little things are blown out
of proportion,” Bell said.
The way the team is playing has been wildly inconsistent. The
Marlins went 8-14 in April, then 21-8 in May for the best month in
franchise history. This month they’re 3-9.
”We hope it’s not April off, May on, June off,” team president
David Samson said.
A year ago the Marlins went 5-23 in June, then staggered to a
last-place finish. Expectations are higher now.
”This is a bummer,” Bell said. ”We know we’re a better team
than this. For whatever reason it didn’t show up this homestand. We
need to come together and start fighting again. We’re getting
punished. We’re getting knocked down. We just need to get up and
start punching again.”
Especially helpful would be more punch at the plate.