Despite the Marlins dropping this game 6-3, the main storyline was the great Ichiro netting his 4,257th hit in the 9th inning of this game, a sharp double off closer Fernando Rodney. A video of the hit can be seen here.
In his Japanese career with the Orix Buffaloes, Ichiro had 1,278 hits, and between the Mariners, Yankees, and Marlins, popped another 2,979 in his illustrious career. I strongly believe it's more important to acknowledge the feats that Ichiro accomplished, than the ego of Pete Rose seeping back into the media. Ichiro lead the league in hits seven times in his career, accomplishing the feat five years in a row from 2006 to 2010. He exploded onto the scene in 2001 with 56 stolen bases, a .350 batting average, and a league leading 738 plate appearances. All that and more in 2001 allowed him to earn the AL MVP and AL ROY. Ichiro also did it with his glove, locking up 10 consecutive Gold Gloves to start his MLB career and proving to be one of the best two way players in the game during the 2000s.
With this milestone out of the way and #3,000 in the MLB alone lurking, let's jump to this 6-3 loss in San Diego...
Early Runs Don't Hold Up
The Fish jumped on the board early against the Padre's young gun, Luis Pedromo, who was carrying a grotesque 9+ ERA into the game. A Christian Yelich RBI single in first was matched in the second by Melvin Upton Jr.'s 9th HR of the year. After a single and a Sac Fly in the fourth inning, Marlin's starter Justin Nicolino failed to keep the two run lead in tact, surrendering three runs in the fifth inning. The big blow being a two run single to left by catcher Derek Norris, which proved to be one of the bigger at bats of the game. The next batter was Upton again, who added to his RBI total on the day with a run-scoring knock. Mattingly then saw enough and pulled Nicolino, who had only 69 pitches at the time.
He would finish with a line of 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, and 3 Ks. Widely ineffective for most of the day, Nicolino's 10 hits were not balls that squeaked through the infield but rather a mix of solid contact and line drives. The only positive out of the start was that Nicolino did in fact have relatively good control of his pitches, he just failed to failed to execute in the spots he needed. Mattingly also didn't seem willing to extend the leash on him, wanting to keep the game as close as possible, opting to give Nick Wittgren some work.
Luis Pedromo on the other hand must have read my bashing of him in the preview for this matinee, and seeking to prove me wrong, got through six innings of work on 94 pitches, finishing with a line of 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, and 4 Ks. This was both the first quality start of his career as well as his first win as as starting pitcher. He was effective in his ability to generate ground balls, 11 to be exact, while quelling the amount of fly balls and solid contact he surrendered, a problem in his last two outings. While his 'heatmaps' won't surface on Fangraphs for another few days, I would expect to see a trend of him pitching down in the zone much better then he did in his previous outings, as his ability to do so was the driving force for this unexpected quality start.
The three run lead the Padre's held after a Wil Myer's RBI double off Nick Wittgren in the sixth was enough for a bullpen that has struggled this year. Even though the Padres hold the third worst ERA among relievers in all of baseball prior to the game, at 4.68, Brandon Maurer and Ryan Butcher converted two hold chances in the seventh and eight innings. The Marlins got Butcher to work, as he threw 21 pitches and didn't look particularly great, but with his line clean for the night, he was able to weasel out of any serious danger save a sharp single by Marcell Ozuna.
Frenando Rodney came in for the ninth inning and allowed two hits, which brought Martin Prado to the plate representing the game's tying run with two outs. Unfortunately, it just wasn't in the cards for the Fish, as Rodney and his signature 'arrow celebration' were on full display after his 13th save of the year.
The Marlin's failed to sweep this series and travel back to Miami to face another NL West team, the Colorado Rockies. Adam Conley versus the hard-throwing Jon Gray is the matchup for Friday's 7:10 ET start.
Hero of the Game: J.T. Realmuto (+.112 WPA)
Zero of the Game: Justin Nicolino (-.473 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Derek Norris's two-run single in the 5th, Nicolino's last pitch of the rocky outing (+.302 WPA)