It started as a homestand to remember, with the Miami Marlins’ shaking off a flat end to a road trip with four consecutive wins at loanDepot park. The offense backed up quality pitching performances. Everything was seeming to click.
It ended with a pair of games to forget, two losses to the Milwaukee Brewers in different fashions but with an underlying theme of falling behind and not being able to erase the deficit.
Lewis Brinson’s game-tying home run in the seventh inning on Sunday got the Marlins close to salvaging their homestand finale, but it wasn’t enough in an eventual 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
Tyrone Taylor’s go-ahead, two-out RBI single off Anthony Bass scored Pablo Reyes, who was the automatic runner on second base to begin the 10th inning while serving as a pinch-runner for Luke Maile.
Brinson, the Marlins’ runner to start on second in the bottom half of the 10th, could only make it to third base with Isan Diaz striking out, Jesus Aguilar flying out to right, Jon Berti walking and Miguel Rojas ending the game with a groundout.
“Wish we could have pulled that one out,” Brinson said, “but we battled.”
Battling wasn’t enough, though. Not on Saturday and Sunday.
And like that, a homestand that started with a momentum-swinging four consecutive wins ends with back-to-back losses. Miami (15-18) opened the six-game stay at their home ballpark with a three-game sweep against the Arizona Diamondbacks and a series-opening with the Brewers. The Marlins outscored their opponents 26-5 in those four games.
The final two games against Milwaukee? Miami scored just three runs and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 basrerunners.
Brinson’s home run off Milwaukee reliever J.P. Feyereisen in the seventh inning, his third and most important hit of the game, was the rare sign of offensive life on Sunday. He sent an 85.3 mph slider a projected 412 feet to left-center field for his second home run of the season. Brinson shouted “Let’s go!” as he rounded second and pointed to his mom in the stands after he crossed home plate. He dedicated the home run to her on Mother’s Day.
“Lew’s homer was huge,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Mainly because it also almost backed up a strong performance by Sandy Alcantara, who threw seven strong innings and held the Brewers (19-16) to one run — a solo home run by Daniel Vogelbach to lead off the fourth — while scattering five hits and a pair of walks. He struck out six and lowered his ERA to 2.72.
“With the game that [Alcantara] was able to throw,” Mattingly said, “you don’t want that to be hanging on him in a game that you don’t score.”
Even at that, though, Alcantara had trouble with command throughout his start and had to work around trouble following the Vogelbach home run in the fourth.
Milwaukee’s Travis Shaw and Jackie Bradley Jr. recorded back-to-back hits that ricocheted off Alcantara to put runners on second and third with one out. Alcantara got Luis Urias to ground out to Brian Anderson at third for the second out, intentionally walked Billy McKinney to load the bases and ended the inning when Luke Maile hit a flyball to Brinson in center field.
“He had to battle today,” Mattingly said of Alcantara, who threw 103 pitches. “That was not one of those that was easy for Sandy. It seemed like he was leaking balls early in the game. ... To get out there for the seventh and still his stuff was really good, on a day when Sandy had to battle and gives up one and then we kind of pick him apart a little bit because he wasn’t as good as we think he can be, obviously Sandy threw the ball really well.”
Alcantara admitted that he didn’t have his “really, really best stuff” on Sunday, a comment that has been made a few times this season, but his growth as a pitcher has allowed him to minimize damage even when he has an off day by his standards.
“I just have to go deep in the games,” Alcantara said. “Just take it pitch by pitch and make the pitches to get out of the game. Sometimes you’re going to get in trouble. If you have your pitch, throw it. I believe in my catchers. I believe in myself. I believe in my stuff and you guys know when I have my best stuff, they’re in trouble.”
Dylan Floro and Yimi Garcia threw a pair of shutout innings out of the bullpen to get the game to extra innings.
But the offense provided no support outside of Brinson’s home run. Miami strung together back-to-back hits just once when Brian Anderson and Brinson hit consecutive singles with one out in the bottom of the fourth to put runners on first and second. Diaz flew out to center field and Sandy Leon’s nine-pitch battle with Brewers reliever Brad Boxberger ended in a swinging strikeout to strand the two runners.
Miami also had a pair of runners picked off at first base — Corey Dickerson in the first and Rojas in the fifth.
On the road again
After a week at home, the Marlins now embark on their second three-city, 10-game road trip. It starts in Phoenix with four games against the Diamondbacks from Monday through Thursday, continues with a weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and finishes with three games against the Philadelphia Phillies from May 18-20.
Miami went 3-7 on its previous three-city road trip this season that included series with the San Francisco Giants, Brewers and Washington Nationals.
The team also has one more three-city trip from May 28-June 6 that features three games against the Boston Red Sox, two with the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo and four with the Pittsburgh Pirates.