One frame after a clutch go-ahead home run by rookie phenom Jordan Walker, the St. Louis Cardinals, as is their wont in 2023, found a way to lose. This time, the walk-off loss came via a throwing error by closer Jordan Hicks. Hicks against the Miami Marlins was summoned to work the bottom of the ninth and protect a 9-8 lead.
A walk and a single around a strikeout for the first out of the inning put Hicks and the Cardinals in a perilous spot. Then Joey Wendle hit a soft grounder back to the mound, and the assumption was that Hicks would toss to Paul Goldschmidt at first for the second out. Said toss, however, did not go as planned. Have a look:
Hicks appeared to double-clutch prior to the throw, and Wendle's speed likely forced him into a state of panic. A "lollipop" of a throw followed, and the miscue was enough to allow Miami to score the tying and winning runs. That's a 10-9 Marlins victory.
Hicks, who's actually been excellent since shifting his position on the rubber and altering his pre-game routine earlier this season, will wear the goat horns in this one, but the margins wouldn't have been so tight if the first three St. Louis pitchers of the game -- Matthew Liberatore, Dakota Hudson and Steven Matz -- didn't team up to allow eight runs in 5 1/3 innings. Of further note is that this defeat comes a night after the Marlins wrecked the Cardinals by a score of 15-2.
The Cardinals are now 8-18 in one-run games this season, while the Marlins find themselves at the other end of the continuum with a mark of 21-5 in such contests. Overall, the unpleasantly surprising Cardinals are back to a season-worst 16 games under .500, while the pleasantly surprising Marlins are back to a season-best 14 games over .500. The clubs could not be more different in 2023, and Wednesday night's final play serves as an acute reminder of that notion.
The two squads will be back at Marlins Park on Thursday evening as the hosts go for a sweep of the four-game series.