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Marlins endure 2nd straight shutout by Rays

Lack of production undermines another solid effort from starter Urena
@JoeFrisaro
May 16, 2019

MIAMI -- Pinpointing why the offense isn’t scoring runs isn’t the problem for the Marlins. Doing something about it is the real issue. The past two days, manager Don Mattingly talked about not getting production from the middle of the order, which again was the case on Wednesday in a

MIAMI -- Pinpointing why the offense isn’t scoring runs isn’t the problem for the Marlins. Doing something about it is the real issue.

The past two days, manager Don Mattingly talked about not getting production from the middle of the order, which again was the case on Wednesday in a 1-0 loss to the Rays at Marlins Park, which extended Miami’s season-long losing streak to seven straight games.

Box score

During the prolonged slide, the Marlins have scored eight total runs, and they have not scored more than two since beating the Cubs, 6-5, on May 6 at Wrigley Field.

“You're going to have to keep erasing games, and get back to business, and keep working,” Mattingly said. “I don't think there are any magic words at this point that are going to totally relax everybody, that we're going to all of a sudden start swinging the bats. We're going to have to individually come here and be better.”

The Rays completed the two-game sweep because they made Anthony Bemboom’s first Major League hit -- an RBI double in the second inning -- hold up. The Marlins were blanked in both games and now have been shut out nine times. They’ve not homered during their losing streak, and they have 10 doubles, including one from Curtis Granderson and two by Jorge Alfaro on Wednesday. They’ve been held scoreless in 24 straight innings.

“I'm seeing a bunch of guys grinding, but trying to do too much,” said shortstop Miguel Rojas, who was lifted before the top of the fifth inning due to what the team described as back spasms, but Rojas said was a rib issue. "We are trying to do a lot with one at-bat. It's really frustrating when you are going on a bad streak like that. When you have runners in scoring position, you're trying to do too much. You're trying to hit a homer, instead of just putting the ball in play and letting the guy behind you do the job, too.”

In defeat, Miami wasted another solid start from José Ureña, who yielded the one run in six innings.

“I think you keep working,” Mattingly said. “I don't think I've been through anything quite like this.”

As the Marlins fell to 10-31, here are three takeaways from the two games in which they were outscored 5-0 by the American League East-leading Rays.

Power shortage
The past two days, Mattingly emphasized that the Marlins -- in year two of a building process -- don’t have a true middle-of-the-order presence. This has been known since Spring Training, but it’s the first time the organization is openly expressing that it is a factor in being MLB’s lowest-scoring team with 105 total runs.

“I don't think we have that true, middle-of-the-order-type guys,” Mattingly said. “I think that, as much as anything, is missing those main pieces that you kind of can count on, day in, day out.”

As part of their build, the emphasis has been placed on adding as much starting pitching as possible, throughout the organization. And the starting pitching has been a positive, including Urena's performance.

The team is building around pitching, speed, defense and athleticism.

“You see clubs over the years that pitch, play defense and scratch for runs,” Mattingly said. “They always have like two main guys. They've got a couple of main guys that thump, that are 25-30 home run guys, and drive in 100 runs. Then you try to put pieces around them to get on base, and create some runs in a different way.”

Cooper factor
Even though the production hasn’t surfaced yet, right fielder Garrett Cooper is a potential middle-of-the-order threat. The problem is that Cooper has played in just seven games, including Wednesday, because he spent two stints on the injured list.

Cooper was 0-for-14 on the season before going 2-for-3 with a walk Wednesday.

“It's just finding timing again, that's the biggest thing,” Cooper said. “I'd like to get the at-bats consistently, that's how you get into a rhythm. It's tough to take two weeks off, and take four weeks off. That's not what you want as a baseball player. It's hard to get that rhythm back.”

Cooper understands his role is to drive in runs. Thus far, he has zero RBIs.

“That's what I'm here for,” he said. “Guys who hit three through six are supposed to drive in runs. It hurts that I got hurt. I want to be that guy. It took a few games to get into that rhythm again. Hopefully, it will turn in the right direction, and hopefully, I'll help drive in some runs and help win some games.”

Tough luck for Urena
You can’t read too much into Urena’s 1-6 record and 4.44 ERA, because the right-hander has gone at least six innings in six straight starts. In his past two, he has allowed two earned runs in 13 innings, and he doesn’t have a win to show for it.

The club’s Opening Day starter paces the Marlins in innings with 52 2/3 in nine starts. Caleb Smith, their best starter thus far, has worked 48 innings in eight starts.

“For me, it's attacking those hitters,” Urena said. “We tried to get quick outs, to help me go deep into the game.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.