The Marlins have built an incredible habit this season of coming from behind.
They have 40 comeback wins—nearly half of their total victories involved falling behind first. They have been at their best when the margins are slimmest: Their 32–13 record in one-run games is not just the best of any team this season but the best that baseball has seen in years.
These close games are supposed to be statistical tossups, more or less, and Miami has made them look like something close to guaranteed victories. The result is a team most effectively described not with a summary of its strengths and weaknesses but with the simple fact that it has been profoundly weird.
The Marlins have sustained a negative run differential for nearly the entire season. Their lineup has been consistently below average. Yet they have won—and kept winning—and they sit in the thick of the playoff race as the season enters its final weekend.
But even by those standards, Miami is now tasked with a potential comeback win far trickier and far more absurd than anything the squad has done to date.
The Marlins came from behind to grab a one-run lead over the Mets in the top of the ninth Thursday. It’s a game that could be potentially crucial to playoff seeding: Miami holds the last NL wild-card berth at half a game ahead of the Cubs and a game and a half behind the Diamondbacks. But with four outs left to play, the game was put in a rain delay, leaving the teams to watch and wait for three hours. (That included one particularly maddening stretch where the weather looked ostensibly agreeable, but the window passed before the umpires made a call to resume play, much to the chagrin of Marlins manager Skip Schumaker.) Finally, around 1 a.m. ET, the game was officially postponed.
Manager Skip Schumaker in visible frustration over the way things have been handled tonight pic.twitter.com/TrqrvnNhMn— Bally Sports Florida: Marlins (@BallyMarlins) September 29, 2023
It’ll most likely be resumed Monday, four days after the game started, requiring the Marlins to fly back to New York after spending the weekend in Pittsburgh, so they can play four outs the day before the playoffs begin.
Now, there’s a chance this game won’t be needed at all. It’s possible Chicago will be eliminated this weekend and Miami and Arizona will finish separated by more than one game. (The Diamondbacks will be playing the Astros, who face a tense, chaotic battle in the AL West standings.) The Marlins hold the tiebreaker over both the Cubs and Diamondbacks, so there’s no need to sort anything out there, either. But that still leaves a very real chance the game will be needed.
Which leads somewhere very messy. It’s undoubtedly maddening for the Marlins. (Especially because this series with the Mets had already been marred by a mismanaged weather response: The doubleheader they played Wednesday may not have been needed had the tarp been on the infield ahead of the rain that was anticipated days earlier.) This scenario is straight out of the rulebook. One of the determining factors for suspending a game rather than calling it is “if a regulation game is called while an inning is in progress and before the inning is completed, and the visiting team has scored one or more runs to take the lead, and the home team has not retaken the lead.” (That’s Rule 7.02(a)5, for those checking their rulebooks at home.) It’s exactly what happened here. But that doesn’t make the situation or its handling any less frustrating.
And if the Marlins do have to go to New York on Monday just to play four outs? It’s a chance at one more come-from-behind win in a season full of them.