Don Mattingly let us know the other day that he thinks Marlins owner Jeff Loria has a big heart. Not to be outdone by the boss, the Marlins have been giving away wins to less fortunate teams like the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins all season long, and last night was no different, as Nick Wittgren became the latest of the Marlins suddenly beleaguered pen to cough up a late lead and the Fish fell 7-5 in game two of the three game set.
- Wei-Yin Chen has had a career long propensity as an effective fly ball pitcher, but today the ball flew a bit too far. Chen gave up three homeruns in a start for the first time this season (to Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, and Byung Ho Park, respectively) and ended up leaving after five and a third inning's pitched having given up five earned runs on nine hits, striking out two and walking none.
- His replacement was Nick Wittgren, who had been so very effective in his previous outing against the Pirates, where he went three scoreless innings in the extra inning victory. Wittgren's outing in this game was particularly unfortunate for a couple of reasons: The Marlins had just come back in the previous inning down four runs to tie the game up, and Wittgren actually managed to secure four outs (two in the sixth and two in the seventh) before allowing four consecutive hits and two runs, forcing Mattingly to pull him. This kind of outing can be a confidence breaker for a young pitcher so I think it will be important for Mattingly to get him back out there sooner rather than later to get another good outing back under his belt.
- The Marlins offense didn't really get going until the fifth. Down by four runs, the Fish managed to get them all back thanks to (deep breath): A J.T. Realmuto double, a Miguel Rojas infield single, an Ichiro Suzuki single, a Martin Prado walk, a Marcell Ozuna single, and finally, a Giancarlo Stanton single. Martin Prado would add another RBI single later on, but the Twins damage against Wittgren put the game out of reach. The Marlins had 14 hits and left nine men on base; that being said, when you score five runs more often then not you should expect to win the game, so I would tend to put this one on the pitching. Stanton had two hits including the aforementioned RBI single, a most welcome sign from the struggling slugger.
- Brian Ellington made his 2016 debut, giving up a hit, a walk, and collecting a strikeout. The pen needs some consistency right now and Ellington definitely has a chance to carve himself out a role amidst all the turbulence.
- Ichiro! is pretty much going to get his own bullet point every time out now, as he relentlessly continues to close in on 3,000 hits, logging three tonight to put him at 2,971 for his illustrious career. Including his hit total from Japan (1,278), he is six shy of Pete Rose's MLB record of 4,256. I confess that, prior to the start of the season, I was afraid he might not get there, or that it would be a languorous crawl. I'm glad to report that my fears seem entirely unfounded. He is racing toward it with the vitality of a man ten years his junior. Thank goodness for that.
The Marlins will close out the series in Minnesota tomorrow attempting to not lose to one of the worst teams in baseball, again, when Tom Koehler takes on Ervin Santana at 8:10 ET.
Hero of the game: Trevor Plouffe (.337)
Flounder of the game: Wei-Yin Chen (-.368)
Play of the game: Plouffe double in the 7th off of Wittgren to score Mauer (.240)