Marlins stayed in playoff hunt longer than expected

Marlins stayed in playoff hunt longer than expected

MIAMI -- Live by the one-run game, get eliminated by the one-run game. The Marlins found themselves in that predicament on Saturday night.

By falling 3-2 to the Nationals, Miami has now been officially eliminated from the National League Wild Card race. Nine days after All-Star Giancarlo Stanton had his season cut short by a pitch to the face in Milwaukee, the injury-depleted Marlins were mathematically locked out of the postseason.

"We've had some tough days," manager Mike Redmond said. "Losing G there in Milwaukee was a big blow. That was a big blow to our team, our lineup, everybody. These guys, I give them credit. They keep battling, they keep fighting. It's been a fun year. We've really improved."

The irony of Saturday night is Miami bowed out of the race with a one-run loss. The club has been so successful in tight games, posting a 35-26 overall record in one-run affairs.

The Marlins certainly stuck around longer than most expected.

Officially, the letter "E" went by their side on Sept. 20, with eight games remaining. Despite being 74-80, the Marlins are vastly improved from a year ago.

In 2013, the Marlins finished 62-100, and their elimination date was officially on Sept. 3, when they sat with a 52-85 mark, 25 games off the pace.

"You've seen with a lot of our guys, how much better they've gotten in a year," Redmond said. "It's a great clubhouse. These guys support each other. They pick each other up. We've got to keep fighting and try to win as many of these games as we can over these next [eight] games."

Coming out of Spring Training, many predicted the Marlins to finish last in the National League East. They still have a chance to finish with a .500 record, but they will have to get hot in the final week.

If a better-than-.500 record isn't in the cards, getting as close as they can to 80 wins is Miami's objective.

"We have a lot of excitement for next year and starting out on the right foot and staying steady for the season," right-hander Jarred Cosart said. "The division is only going to get better. We've seen that with the pitching and hitting the Mets are running out there. They're only going to get better. And these guys [the Nationals] are not losing anybody. The Braves are right there. It's going to be a battle again. It's a long season."

The Marlins made tremendous strides, despite being without their ace, Jose Fernandez, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May. Earlier this month, they lost the services of Stanton, their NL MVP Award candidate who sustained multiple facial fractures after being hit by a pitch on Sept. 11.

"There is a lot of excitement for next year," Cosart said. "Just knowing that we were close with obviously some key pieces missing and some bad breaks here and there. But it's going to be exciting to have everybody and get everything rolling. For the most part, we've played good baseball. It's about continuing that for 162 games from the start."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.