DENVER -- Marlins players crowded around the clubhouse television Monday at Coors Field as news broke that Major League Baseball had suspended Brewers slugger Ryan Braun for the remainder of the season.
Fewer than 24 hours before, Braun stood in the batter's box in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Marlins in a game Miami would eventually lose, 1-0 in 13 innings. Braun struck out against reliever A.J. Ramos in what now marks the slugger's final at-bat of the year.
Soon after the news broke, pitcher Kevin Slowey addressed the team in a closed meeting.
"I think everybody in the clubhouse, all we really want is a fair and balanced playing field," said Slowey, a player representative with the Twins earlier in his career who now serves on a union executive subcommittee. "We're thankful for a policy that clearly is working, whether it's as quickly as we hoped or as often as we had hoped, it's good to know that what we're doing in Major League Baseball with the drug policy is working and it's making sure that guys who are choosing not to follow that policy are feeling the repercussions."
Despite his involvement with the Players Association, Slowey said he had no prior knowledge a suspension would be handed down soon. He found out, along with the rest of his teammates, when the news broke in the clubhouse.
Any frustration among players that Braun was able to initially avoid a suspension right after the violation had not materialized among the Marlins, Slowey said. But they did express the expected disappointment that another member of the baseball fraternity was apparently caught in violation of the league's drug policy.
"I think there's a sense of disappointment anytime somebody in the baseball family -- and that's what it is, there are only a handful of guys that are players at any given time," Slowey said. "When somebody chooses to violate a program and gets caught, you're kind of disappointed in that person as you would be a family member."
Marlins manager Mike Redmond expressed similar frustration in seeing another of professional baseball's brightest stars get caught breaking the rules.
Slowey and Redmond both noted that it's a sign of progress that baseball is ridding the sport of illegal drugs better than ever before. But that can't silence their disappointment.
"For these guys to still be involved in stuff just baffles me," Redmond said.
"I know Major League Baseball has done a great job of cleaning up the game and [implementing a] testing policy and all that stuff, I know it's working. But at the same time too, it seems like we'll go through a lull and then all of a sudden, bam, here comes another guy that gets suspended. That's got to stop."
Facing scoreless streak, Marlins try not to press
DENVER -- For three games, the Marlins' offense was nearly nonexistent.
But Coors Field proved to be the perfect place to end a streak of 37 straight scoreless innings, as the Marlins wasted no time scoring two runs in the first inning in the series opener against the Rockies. It was the longest scoreless streak in franchise history and ended 11 innings short of the big league record.
Shut out in three games against the Brewers, Miami managed only one extra-base hit (15 total) -- a double in the series opener.
Such struggles at the plate often lead to players pressing during every at-bat, poised to be the one who disrupts the unwanted trend.
"Once you don't score for a game or two games in a row, then all of a sudden you start pressing and the third game [against Milwaukee], you can see we're just swinging at bad pitches and just being overanxious," hitting coach Tino Martinez said. "But they'll get over it, they'll get through it."
Martinez said players swing even more freely when runners are in scoring position, that much more hungry to get the offense clicking.
What gave the Marlins coaching staff confidence, however, was that the offense was operating at full speed before the All-Star break. Miami took three of four and scored 18 runs in those games before the break, and Martinez said hitters likely fell out of rhythm after four days off.
Martinez, who endured many dry spells himself over a 15-year big league career, has kept the message simple.
"Just relax," he said. "Those games are behind us, one at-bat a time, things are going to turn around. They know they're a good hitting team, they know they can score runs, they've proven it over the last couple months."
"I don't tell them I know it all. I tell that I've been there, I know what you're going through as an individual and going through as a team."
Part of the lengthy stretch of offensive futility can be attributed to a team loaded with youth and lacking a stabilizing veteran presence. Marlins manager Mike Redmond acknowledged that likely plays a role, but doesn't see it as the source of the problem.
"I think that's probably a little bit of youth and inexperience," Redmond said. "But at the same time too, it's consistency and it's sticking with your gameplan and your approach. And as you know in this game, when you let up, this game has a way of beating you down."
Marlins stack lineup with righties vs. Rockies lefty
DENVER -- With left-handed rookie Drew Pomeranz starting for the Rockies on Monday night, Marlins manager Mike Redmond stacked his lineup with right-handed bats.
Redmond started veteran Placido Polanco at third base and Donovan Solano at second in the opener against the Rockies, and it paid off early as Miami's floundering offense scored two runs in the first. Also, Ed Lucas, who had been playing third, replaced Logan Morrison at first. That bumped second baseman Derek Dietrich and Morrison, both lefties, out of the lineup.
"I've run through a ton of different lineups throughout the course of the season, and at the end of the day, I just don't think it makes that big a difference where they are in the order," Redmond said. "Guys got to produce and … each guy's got to do their job."
Polanco is a markedly better hitter against lefties with a career .330 average against them and a .206 average against righties. The sample size is much smaller for Solano, but he is hitting .271 off southpaws and .296 against right-handers.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.