Just how bad is that? Let us count the ways.
Friday night in Pittsburgh -- and you'll have to get used to thinking an Astros/Pirates game is an interleague game instead of a NL Central matchup -- the teams were tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth with two out and the bases loaded. Astros pitcher Edgar Gonzalez induced a popup. Extra innings, right? Wrong:
Saturday night in Miami, the Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra hit the first pitch of the game for a home run. You could have left right then, because there was no further scoring in Arizona's 1-0 win. It's the seventh time the Marlins have been shut out this year and they have scored 19 total runs in their last 12 games, during which they've gone 2-10.
The Astros are 17 games out of first place and their elimination number -- a week before Memorial Day -- is 102.
I'm writing this not to try to make you feel better about the Cubs' sometimes-good-sometimes-bad start to 2013, but to tell you that these two teams could combine for an historic 2013 season in several different ways.
The Marlins have scored just 117 runs in their 44 games. That's 2.66 runs per game, and we're far enough into the season that a "pace" can be reasonably extrapolated, especially given the numbers above -- 1.58 runs per game over their last 12. The Marlins are on pace to score 430 runs this year. That would be the lowest run total by any team in the expansion era in a non-strike season; the current mark is 463, by the 1968 White Sox.
Meanwhile, the Astros have allowed 261 runs. That's 5.93 per game, and is the most in the major leagues by a considerable margin (the Angels are next-worst at 227 runs allowed through Sunday). That's a pace to allow 961 runs. That wouldn't be the worst-ever; the 1996 Tigers allowed 1103 runs en route to a 109-loss season, which brings me to the next possibilities for this year's awful pair, two things that have been seen once each in major-league history.
There has been just one season in history in which two big-league teams have failed to crack the 50-win mark, and that was in the time of the 154-game season. In 1909, the Washington Senators went 42-108 in the American League, and the Boston Braves went 44-108 in the National League. Neither had all 154 scheduled decisions, but neither would have made it to the 50-win mark if they had, as both lost 108.
And, there has been just one season in the expansion era in which two teams lost 110 or more games. That's 1969, an expansion year in which the first-year Montreal Expos and San Diego Padres both went 52-110. Even at that, the Expos helped ruin the Cubs' season by going 8-10 against them, their second-best mark against anyone.
This year's Marlins and Astros could do both -- lose 110 or more, and fail to win 50 games. That would be a major-league first. Further, just two teams in the expansion era haven't won at least 50 (the 1962 Mets and 2003 Tigers). The Cubs are 3-1 against the Marlins so far this year; they'll play the Astros in an interleague series at Wrigley Field next month, and the Marlins will be at Wrigley for a three-game set starting on Labor Day, by which time Miami could be mathematically eliminated.
The Astros, at least, are presumably rebuilding in a similar fashion to the Cubs' plan, though they have decimated their big-league roster. The Marlins... well, I don't think anyone has any idea what they're doing. They could be bad for years to come.