ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Florida Marlins lost both their manager and another game.
James Shields threw a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in his second consecutive complete game, Casey Kotchman had a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays handed the reeling Marlins their 10th loss in a row, 2-1 on Sunday.Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez unexpectedly resigned before the game, and the last-place Marlins dropped to 1-18 in June. Bench coach Brandon Hyde managed Sunday, but the club will begin a search for an interim manager.An emotional Hyde said he was unaware that Rodriguez was planning to step down.
Swimming Deeply In The Red
The Marlins entered June in great shape at nine games above .500 before plunging into the NL East's cellar with what may turn out to be a historically dubious stretch:
Worst win pct. in month
MLB history (min. 20 games)
* - 9 games left
"It was a tough day," Hyde said. "Edwin talked to the staff this morning. It's been a roller-coaster, let's put it that way, the past few weeks. It's disappointing. Edwin is a good man and a good manager. I thought our guys handled it well."Rodriguez, the first Puerto Rican-born manager in major league history, said it was a difficult decision to leave, given the "positive way the organization is moving, a new ballpark next season and the young core of players.""I can't say enough about the effort that this staff and these players have put into this season," he said in a statement released by the team. "I could tell that they continued to give 100 percent effort each and every day on the field. I wish this organization and players nothing but success in their futures."Shields (7-4) has a major league-best five complete games this season, and was coming off a 4-0 shutout over AL East-leading Boston on Tuesday."If that does not put him in the All-Star game, I don't know what does," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Five complete games prior to the All-Star game, that does not happen every year. And it's the way he's done it, too. He's just been dominating."Shields also pitched a three-hit shutout, with 13 strikeouts, against the Marlins on May 22."The last couple years I haven't had CGs and this year I told Joe, 'Hey, I'm ready to finish the ballgames," Shields said. "It was one of those pieces of the puzzle that was missing for me, and to have this many CGs at this point is great. It shows how hard I've been working."Matt Joyce singled to open the eighth against Ryan Webb (1-4) and went to second when the reliever threw out Evan Longoria at first after misplaying a potential double-play grounder. Kotchman then made it 2-1 with his opposite-field single down the third-base line off Randy Choate."It's frustrating. ... I felt I had him beat," Choate said. "Somehow he kept it inside the third-base line. I think if I'd thrown it any further inside it would have hit him."Marlins starter Chris Volstad is winless in 10 straight games -- including six losses. He gave up one run and six hits in seven innings. His last win came on April 26 against the Los Angeles Dodgers."Shields, obviously, threw an outstanding game," Volstad said. "I was just trying to go out there and really battle for the team."Potential candidates to become Florida's next manager include 80-year-old special assistant to the owner Jack McKeon, who led the Marlins to a World Series championship in 2003.Hyde said the Marlins have not talked to him about their future plans."It's been extremely frustrating for everyone," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "I think everyone here knows what is going on -- the way we've played, the way we've performed. It's tough on everyone, especially (Rodriguez)."Gaby Sanchez put the Marlins ahead 1-0 on a first-inning sacrifice fly. Tampa Bay tied it when Ben Zobrist hit a sacrifice fly in the third.The Rays loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but failed to score when Sam Fuld hit into a double play.Shields retired 13 in a row before Omar Infante hit a one-out double in the fifth.Fuld took away an extra-base hit from Infante when he made a diving catch on the warning track for the first out in the eighth. The left fielder also ended the inning with another diving effort on Dewayne Wise's soft liner."Unfortunately, James Shields is an All-Star-caliber pitcher," Hyde said. "We lost a 2-1 game against a good club. We were a hit here or there, or a Sam Fuld drop, from going home with a W."
Rodriguez was at the ballpark and talked with individual players in the manager's office before the game. He did not hold a session with reporters. ... The Rays are 18-18 at home and 21-15 on the road. ... Florida OF Mike Stanton was out of the lineup for the second straight game due to a right eye infection. He is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday ... Longoria made two errors at third base. One came when he missed a grounder and the other on an errant throw to first.