Fans should have been prepared for the worst Sunday afternoon as the Marlins played their final home game of the season against the Mets at Land Shark Stadium.
First of all, Josh Johnson was home puking with what the rest of the team can only pray is not H1N1, and had to be scratched from his start in favor of the struggle-laden Chris Volstad. Nick Johnson was also out due to the flu, and although Jorge Cantu was in the lineup, he was feeling a little queasy himself. Cody Ross, one of the few Marlins not sitting around the clubhouse with a thermometer hanging out of his mouth, was still nursing his badly bruised wrist, and was only available to pinch run.
With all the above considered, we should have mentally prepared ourselves for the worst. But call us crazy, we still had hope the Marlins would find a way to win, and send fans home with magical, victorious memories to sustain us until April.
They did not.
Volstad wasn’t necessarily awful in the game, but he lasted only four innings, and gave up three runs to the Mets. The three runs naturally included Volstad’s signature long ball, this time a two-run shot by Jeff Francoeur in the third inning.
The truth is it wouldn’t have mattered if Volstad had gone eight innings strong, and had only given up one run to the Mets. After New York was on the board in the second, the game was over for the Fish, thanks to Pat Misch.
Misch decided to be a hero Sunday, and tossed a complete game shut out. It wasn’t as though the Marlins couldn’t touch Misch; they had eight hits and three walks off of the starter, and threatened in the first inning with men on second and third and nobody out. But they were 0-for-the-game with runners in scoring position, and were unable to put anything together through nine innings.
Sadly, as is usually the case, when one cannot score, one cannot win.
The loss eliminated the Marlins in the NL East, and put them 4 ½ back in the wild card with a mere six games left to play.
What a charming way to end the final homestand of the season.