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Lack of little things added up in loss
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10/22/2003  2:28 AM ET 
Lack of little things added up in loss
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Juan Pierre is caught trying to steal second to end the fifth inning. (Chris O'Meara/AP)
Pudge tagged out in rundown: 56K | 300K
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MIAMI -- Boil it down to basics, and there are three things the world has gotten to know about the Florida Marlins through their thrilling Wild Card ride to the World Series.

  • They've got great young pitching.

  • They can bunt you to death.

  • They're smart and aggressive on the bases.

    OK, so there's four. We all know that manager Jack McKeon is so old he has a glove autographed by Moses. But that had nothing to do with Game 3 Tuesday night.

    The first three did. Only one of them rang true, and it cost Florida dearly while what turned out to be a 6-1 Yankees laugher still hung in the balance.

    The Marlins pride themselves in doing the little things to win games, and their failure to do those little things in front of more that 65,000 rain-soaked fans at Pro Player Stadium loomed large in the loss.

    "It's really frustrating," said leadoff man Juan Pierre, who did his part by going 2-for-3 and scoring Florida's only run. "But that's the World Series for you. Strange things happen sometimes, and when we're wasting opportunities like we did, that's not us."

        Juan Pierre   /   CF
    Height: 6'0"
    Weight: 180
    Bats/Throws: L/L

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    Marlins site

    It all started with such promise, too. Pierre looped a ball in front of Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams in the bottom of the first, and when Williams didn't get a handle on it right away, Pierre hustled into second with a double.

    And then, a harbinger. Luis Castillo couldn't get a bunt down, and Yankees starter Mike Mussina struck him out. Miguel Cabrera eventually drove Pierre home with a two-out single, but a tone had been set.

    "Miggy picked us up with that single, but we had the makings of a big inning there," Pierre said. "When I'm on second base with nobody out, we usually get a couple runs there."

    Another opportunity went by the wayside in the fourth, when Alex Gonzalez was stranded at second after a two-out double, and then came an ugly sequence of events in the sixth.

    Pudge Rodriguez doubled with one out, and Cabrera followed with a hard single to right. Marlins third base coach Ozzie Guillen appeared to be holding Rodriguez up at third, but when Yankees right fielder Karim Garcia bobbled the ball, he started waving the catcher in. Rodriguez had already stopped, though, so he had to retreat to the bag.

    "It's a tough situation," McKeon said. "You either do [send him] or you don't. You've got to make up your mind in a split second. When he comes around that base, do you think he has a chance to score or do you hold him up? Then, all of a sudden the guy kicks the ball.

    "I've been in that situation as a third base coach in the big leagues. It's probably the toughest play."

        Ivan Rodriguez  /  C
    Height: 5'9"
    Weight: 218
    Bats/Throws: R/R

    More info:
    Player page
    Stats
    Splits
    Hit chart
    Tigers site

    The very next play was tough, too. Derrek Lee tapped a pitch back to the mound, and Mussina threw home to start a rundown that ended with Yankees catcher Jorge Posada tagging out his counterpart between third and home.

    "You can't really blame Pudge for either of those plays," said Lee. "You have to go on contact there. That's just bad luck and baseball coming together."

    And finally, a wasted opportunity in the seventh, the last of Mussina's masterful frames. Jeff Conine led off with a single with the score tied at 1-1, but Gonzalez failed to get a sacrifice bunt down and ended up popping out. Marlins starter Josh Beckett followed with Florida's only successful sacrifice of the night, but after an intentional walk to Pierre, Mussina struck out Castillo to end the inning.

    "We missed some chances," Pierre said, "and when you're not taking advantage of chances against someone as good as Mike Mussina, you know you're in trouble because you're not gonna get too many.

    "That wasn't us tonight. But that's all right. It's a seven-game series. We'll come back tomorrow and get back to Marlins baseball."

    Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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