(Photo credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
After a long, soggy and emotional night in New York ended without a satisfactory conclusion, the Miami Marlins resume their playoff quest with the opener of a three-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
The Marlins scored twice in the ninth inning to take a 2-1 lead over theNew York Mets on Monday, only to see the game go into a rain delay moments later. Following a three-plus-hour delay, the contest was suspended. Should the result matter for Miami's playoff fate, the Marlins would have to return to New York to complete the contest Monday afternoon.
Marlins general manager Kim Ng said early Friday morning, "Without getting into the details, obviously this is an unfortunate incident. Right now, we're being told that we'll have to play (the suspended game) on Monday."
One way for the Marlins to avoid that eventuality would be to sweep the Pirates. Miami (82-76) holds a half-game lead on the Chicago Cubs (82-77) in the race for the third and final National League wild card. The Cubs conclude the regular season with a three-game road series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Miami also owns the tiebreaker after winning the season series against Chicago 4-2.
The Arizona Diamondbacks (84-75) currently hold the second wild-card spot, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins, as they head into a weekend series against the visiting Houston Astros.
Miami trailed 1-0 entering the ninth inning on Thursday. Bryan De La Cruz hit a leadoff single and scored on Jazz Chisholm Jr.'s one-out double. Pinch hitter Yuli Gurriel then singled home the go-ahead run. Two batters later, with runners on first and second and two outs, the game was halted.
While the Marlins won three of four in a home series against the Pirates in June, Miami doesn't have a recent history of doing well in Pittsburgh. The Marlins are 26-40 at PNC Park, including an 11-20 mark since the start of the 2012 season.
The Pirates (75-84) have long been out of contention, but they can be spoilers for the Marlins and have a lot of young players who are trying to establish something for next season and beyond.
Playing in three cities where the opponents were vying for the playoffs or playoff positioning, Pittsburgh just completed a 5-4 road trip that featured matchups with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies.
The Pirates went 2-1 against each of those first two teams, then salvaged the series finale against the Phillies with a 3-2 win on Thursday.
"Just great atmospheres to play in," rookie Pittsburgh infielder Jared Triolo, who had a pair of RBI doubles on Thursday, told ATT Sportsnet. "It gives us a little extra spark. These guys are playing for something, and we kind of want to spoil it.
"When you look around in stadiums like this, it makes you want to bring it back to Pittsburgh. The competition and level of play kind of (increases) at the end of the season."
Neither Pittsburgh nor Miami had a projected starter for any of the three games this weekend.
The Pirates' two bona fide starters the past several weeks, Mitch Keller and Johan Oviedo, pitched in Philadelphia and are considered to be done for the year. A quasi third starter, Luis L. Ortiz, started Thursday.
Pittsburgh has been going with an opener plus a bulk-innings pitcher often, and that's a strong possibility for these games.
"I think the fact that we're exploring it and maybe experimenting with it will give us a better idea of maybe how we can function going into next season," Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.
--Field Level Media