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Again with the Marlins

Every year they win 54 and lose 54 to everyone else and win 54 against the Giants.

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MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants got a badly needed win yesterday in Los Angeles, but the playoffs are looking real iffy right now. They can’t win on the road and the starting rotation is still all over the place in terms of quality performances. And the injuries... have we mentioned the injuries? But, it’s not all bad. They’re still in it and this is the month to make their move. 24 of the Giants’ next 31 games are at AT&T Park. Given their road record, every single one of these games is the most important game they’ll play this season. StubHub has great seats at incredibly low prices for all of them. Be there to see the Giants make their next big run.

Consolidating the entire Miami Marlins experience into a 2-week stretch was the only saving grace on this year’s schedule for the Giants. There’s just no getting rid of the Marlins. Derek Jeter has tried to liquidate them and, nope, they’re still the Marlins.

Last week’s nightmarish 4-game series didn’t go how the Giants expected and they were lucky to get out of Miami alive, let alone with a single win, and now they have to do it all over again. I’ll tell you why this is a huge problem, despite the Marlins being 28-44 overall:

Miami is 19-9 at AT&T Park since 2010. They’ve swept the Giants here on three separate occasions, the most recent being last season, which yeah, makes total sense. Human beings seek order in chaos to cope with their surrounding reality, but the Theory of Everything doesn’t factor in the Marlins’ sorcery.

MLB Pipeline rated Lewis Brinson as the team’s #1 prospect heading into the season, but from his short stint last season with the Brewers (he came over to Miami in the Christian Yelich trade) through this season, he’s been extremely bad with a 48 OPS+ in 90 career games and 309 total plate appearances. Brinson has 78 strikeouts in 254 plate appearances this season, good for a 30.7% strikeout rate.

He struck out just twice in 16 plate appearances against the Giants over 4 games. He’s had only one other 4-game stretch this season where he struck out fewer than 3 times, and that was May 17-20, one game against the Dodgers and three against the Braves (1 strikeout in 15 plate appearances). But in that stretch, he had 2 hits (one of them was a grand slam) and slashed .133 / .133 / .333.

Against the Giants, he had 5 hits (.333 / .313 / .467 for the series) and a game-tying sacrifice fly in the 9th inning of the 16-inning game after a 9-pitch battle against Hunter Strickland. Young players struggle all the time, but somehow, the Marlins’ youngsters are able to realize their potential only when facing the Giants. Or there’s sorcery afoot.

Furthermore, Don Mattingly was given the keys to a hot rod in the Dodgers yet always managed to drive it into a ditch as soon as he turned onto the main road. He’s been given the screwdriver to a jalopy with the Marlins but we just saw him in 4 games this season and 3 last season drive that sucker across country without a hitch. Who wears the wizard’s robe?

In order to defeat these grand illusionists, they’ll need more than a healthy dose of skepticism towards real magic, and they’ll have to do it without Brandon Crawford, who will be on paternity leave for this series for the birth of his 30th child (don’t fact check this — also, congratulations to Brandon Crawford and his family for being fruitful and multiplying).

Andy Suarez might be running out of time. If you had asked me two weeks ago who goes down when Samardzija and/or Cueto returns, I would’ve said Dereck Rodriguez and Derek Holland. But they’re performing well enough that the Giants will definitely keep one or both of them around. It’s Suarez who’s got to get it going. He’s pitched much better at home (22 strikeouts, 2 walks in 25.1 innings), but the Marlins have shown they’re invincible at AT&T. If he can pierce their armor tonight, he might regain some favor I’m assuming he’s lost with his inconsistency.

Hitter(s) to Watch: Justin Bour has an OPS of 1.060 in 9 games at AT&T Park (29 plate appearances), but only 1 home run. So... hah!

This will be Brian Anderson’s first trip to AT&T Park, but for his brief career, he’s hit a little bit better on the road. We’ll see if he gets AT&T’d or if he winds up making some great plays on defense that make me throw the remote.

J.T. Realmuto is desperate to be traded from the Marlins, so you have to assume he’s on a mission to destroy every pitch he sees to get out of that uniform as quickly as possible. He’s slugging .533 this season and 8 of his 16 hits this month have been extra base hits (4 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs).

Pitcher to Watch: Jose Urena (oo-REY-nuh) is not a prospect anymore, but he’s still an interesting young arm to watch. He averages 96 mph on his fastball. And he’s a starter. Austin Jackson and Hunter Pence might get a start against him, too, because it’ll be a day game after a night game. Starting either would be a mistake.

Prediction: The Giants desperately need to sweep a team that’s objectively worse than them, but the best we can hope for is what will happen: a series win.