MIAMI -- With four consecutive losses and nine defeats in their past 10 games, the Miami Marlins are sinking from the National League wild-card playoff race that offered them hope just two weeks ago.
The latest setback was a 6-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday afternoon at Marlins Park.
Reasons for the defeat can be found in the list of five pitchers the Marlins trotted out to the mound Monday. All five were in the minors at some point this year, and two of them -- including starter Jake Esch -- made their major league debuts this season.
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"We know what kind of club we have," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "But we also knew that we were going to be challenged depth-wise."
On Tuesday, the Marlins (68-70) will start yet another pitcher -- right-hander Jose Urena -- who spent a majority of the season in the minors.
Urena is 3-5 with a 5.40 ERA, but he has pitched much better lately. In his past four starts, Urena has a 3.42 ERA. He has gone at least six innings in three of those four outings.
In addition, Urena's fastball has been heating up, touching 97 mph at its peak.
Philadelphia, which snapped a six-game losing streak Monday, was bounced from the wild-card race long ago. However, there is such a thing as finishing strong, and that is exactly what manager Pete Mackanin wants to see from the Phillies (61-76).
On Tuesday, he will send left-hander Adam Morgan (1-9, 6.21 ERA) to the mound. Morgan's stat line is awful, but he is coming off perhaps his best start of the year, when he allowed just three hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals.
He will hope to get support from a Phillies offense that was held scoreless for 18 consecutive innings before scoring in the fifth frame Monday in the win over Miami.
"I was just happy to get a couple of runs," Mackanin said. "It was nice to see. Maybe now that we are on the road, we can start hitting better."
Given how badly the Marlins are going, it is hardly a surprise the Phillies snapped out of their slump against Miami.
The Marlins got more bad news on Monday when shortstop Miguel Rojas injured his groin. He is considered day-to-day, but Rojas did not seem optimistic he could play on Tuesday.
Fortunately for Miami, starting shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria can step in, although he has been slumping at the plate lately.
Perhaps first baseman Justin Bour, who could return on Tuesday, will provide Miami with a boost. He has not played since July 2 due to an ankle injury. Bour would give the Marlins much-needed power in the middle of the lineup, assuming he is healthy and ready to go.
Given how long he has been out, though, it might be unfair to ask too much of Bour.
Still, the Marlins are desperate.
"We've needed a little bit of luck, everything to fall in its slots," Mattingly said of what the Marlins hoped for in the second half. "But in the past month and a half, it's probably fallen the wrong way, and it's put us in a bind. We have some guys who probably should be coming up but not necessarily being part of (close games)."