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Tonight Could Be "X" Night


   With so many Marlins battling the flu, Ross Gload felt it appropriate to walk through the clubhouse on Monday wearing a surgical mask. The get-up brought laughter from some members of the coughing and sniffling club. But even if they're over their illnesses come tonight, the Marlins might want to keep the Kleenex handy. And Gload might consider trading in his physician's garb for an undertaker's outfit. Because tonight could be it for the Marlins. This could be the night they receive the 'x' next to their name, as in eliminated. A Marlins loss or Rockies win will make it official.

    The Marlins already look like death warmed over. Nick Johnson appears pale and thin, having spent the past week battling the flu. Josh Johnson spent Sunday in bed. John Baker, Jeremy Hermida and Brett Hayes have been under the weather. Manager Fredi Gonzalez sounded stuffy during his post-game remarks last night.

And that doesn't even count the healthy players who appear Zombie-esque at the plate. Hanley Ramirez still holds a comfortable lead in the batting race. But he's 11 for his past 55 and his average has slipped. The Marlins haven't scored since Saturday's big, 7-run burst. They hit a few balls to the warning track last night, but you never got the impression they were ever in it. The 4-0 loss seemed more like 14-0.

So get out the violins. If the Marlins can take small satisfaction in anything, it could be that, along with their winning record, they'll have ended up playing more meaningful games this season than the Miami Dolphins, whose season already appears over.

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