Marlins' bullpen needs to 'snap out of' funk

Marlins' bullpen needs to 'snap out of' funk

MIAMI -- Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, adept at fielding his position, had no regrets about taking the risk of trying to throw out speedy Magneuris Sierra in the ninth inning on Tuesday night.

What bothers Ramos most is that he slipped and didn't make an accurate throw to first. The error proved costly in Miami's 6-5 loss to the Cardinals at Marlins Park.

"I'd throw that every time," Ramos said. "I slipped. I didn't have my footing right. I think most of the time I'd make that play. I just wasn't able to get it done today, for whatever reason."

At a time little is going right for the Marlins, the Cardinals cashed in on the miscue and completed the comeback victory.

With one out in the ninth and the game tied, Sierra slapped a hard comeback grounder that Ramos knocked down. The closer scrambled to the ball, and threw wildly to first. Sierra advanced to second. Ramos could have opted to hold the ball, keeping the speedster at first. Sierra ended up scoring the decisive run, which was unearned, on Dexter Fowler's pinch-hit RBI single to right.

The Marlins' bullpen woes continued on a night it was handed a four-run lead in the eighth inning.

Ramos, who hasn't had a save or save chance since April 22, was tagged with the loss. In the eighth inning, the Cardinals rallied from four down to tie it on Jedd Gyorko's two-run single off Brad Ziegler.

Gyorko's game-tying single

But St. Louis got the inning rolling with the first four batters reaching off Kyle Barraclough, who faced six batters and got one out. Ziegler inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam.

For the Marlins' bullpen, it's the second time in four games they allowed a four-run lead to disappear from the seventh inning on. Last Friday at Citi Field, they lost, 8-7, to the Mets after being up by as many as six runs.

"We're in a little funk," Barraclough said. "It's not one thing we can blame. Two games out of the last four, the bullpen has been handed a four-run lead, and we haven't taken care of business. Everyone, we've got to snap out of it, and just move on. We've got a game tomorrow, and we need to snap out of it."

Bench coach Tim Wallach, who managed from the first inning onward after manager Don Mattingly was ejected, noted the late-inning relievers haven't had many situations of late where they were protecting a lead.

"I think it was probably more under-work than over-work with them," Wallach said. "We haven't been in a lot of [save] situations. Our guys usually are pretty sharp when they're pitching a lot. We just haven't been in those situations probably enough."

Barraclough and Ramos didn't use inactivity in lock-down situations as an excuse.

"Just didn't get the job done," Barraclough said. "It had nothing to do with that. We've got our work in when we've needed to, on the side, on the mound, on flat ground. Just didn't get the job done."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.