Marlins relievers Joe Nelson and Matt Lindstrom look to pick up most of the save opportunities with closer Kevin Gregg benched with leg trouble -- but their efforts at this point are all but academic.
Gregg, 30, had kept quiet about a painful knee injury that prevented him from pitching effectively over the past two weeks, and now must take the blame for costing his team a playoff berth by blowing four critical saves in a row.
The Marlins have fallen seven games back, with little or no chance to catch the Mets or Phillies.
Gregg's most conspicuous failure came last week when he surrendered a game-winning grand slam to Carlos Beltran of the Mets. Altogether, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound righty had given up 12 runs in his last seven innings for a total of four losses in four outings, bringing his total to nine blown saves on the year.
Fans were furious with manager Fredi Gonzalez for continuing to hand Gregg the ball when he obviously was no longer effective. But how could Gonzalez have been expected not to pitch Gregg if Gregg refused to level with him?
"....Don't you think it would have been nice for Gregg to tell Gonzalez the knee was a trouble spot before taking the mound?" asked Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero. "Gonzalez sent Gregg out to the mound seven times since Aug. 15, usually with the game hanging in the balance, without having complete information about his pitcher's health.
"It's one thing if Gregg had said something...Then Gonzalez could have made a decision...knowing all the facts. But Gregg put Gonzalez in a difficult spot by saying -- well, nothing."