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One Pitch Haunts Marlins, Drop Rubber Match 1-0

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Brandon Crawford continued to plague the Marlins as his solo shot was the difference in a game of bullpens.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

One pitch was all it took for the Giants to put away the Marlins in the rubber match of an eventful three game series in Miami. Brandon Crawford continued the destruction of the Marlins moral as he took a 3-2 changeup from Phelps just over the wall in right field. That one swing stood as the difference in the game, as the bullpens took over for both teams, logging a combined 7.1 innings (MIA 4 IP, SF 3.1 IP).

Late life came in the form of a ninth inning two out double to left center by Ichiro, brining up J.T. Realmuto with the game's tying run on second base. Unfortunately the Marlin's catcher struck out on three pitches, stranding Ichiro after he reached on his 3,002nd hit in the Majors.

Santiago Casilla picked up his 26th save for the Giants on that punch out, while newly acquired Will Smith, Hunter Strickland, and Derek Law each picked up holds. This all came after starter Jeff Samardzija logged 5.2 innings, giving up three hits, three walks, and striking out three.

While he did pitch decently for the majority of the game, Bruce Bochy didn't seem to have the utmost confidence in Samardzija as he was removed in favor of Will Smith after walking two in the bottom of the sixth inning. Mattingly pinch hitting Chris Johnson for Derek Dietrich was the move that sparked this, as Samardzija's pitch count was only at 82, a mark he has eclipsed in all but one start this season (64 pitches on 6/22, 6 ER over 3 IP in PIT). The Giants bullpen holding strong moved him 10-8 on the year, while the tough luck loss for Phelps moves him to 5-6, or 0-1 as a starter this season.

This being Phelps' second start this season after his great outing in Coors late last week, extended his pitch count to 91 total as he has eased very nicely into a starter's role for the Marlins. On the positive side of things, Phelps cruised nicely through four innings of work, allowing only the solo home run to Crawford on four hits and one walk, while striking out five. In the fifth, after allowing back-to-back walks to Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt, Mattingly let Phelps pitch to Buster Posey whom he got to ground out.

One of the most annoying things regarding the outing for Phelps is that he got beat on a pitch which he only threw five times in the game, twice prior to leaving one up to Crawford. The Changeup is a pitch Phelps has only thrown about 2% of the time this entire season, but with his move to the starting role, it seemed like today he wanted to try in force it into some hitters. He threw it on a 1-1 count to Gregor Blanco for a called strike and on a 2-0 count for a swinging strike to Angel Pagan. The next time he threw it was to Brandon Crawford for the solo shot. There is no doubt Phelps has the confidence and feel to make this an effective pitch, but as with most pitches, if he doesn't command it perfectly, it can come back to bite him.

After Phelps escaped that jam in the bottom half of the fifth, Ichiro and Realmuto reached, and with two outs pinch hitter Giancarlo Stanton stepped to the plate, spelling the end of Phelps' outing. Samardzija got Stanton out exclusively on sliders, the out pitch being a fly out to center. Stanton pinch hitting has to be a good sign after feeling some minor hip soreness, he'll get an off day tomorrow to heal up and I would imagine take the field this weekend against the White Sox.

Bullpens

On the Marlins side of things, Mike Dunn, Nick Wittgren, Brad Ellington, and Kyle Barraclough each pitched a scoreless inning of work consecutively. The highest leverage moment quite possibly being in the top of the eighth inning, when Johnson turned a tough 3-5-3 double play off the bat of Brandon Crawford with Ellington on the mound. The top of the order was coming up in the bottom half of the eighth and keeping it a one run game was vital for any shot of a comeback

Because there wasn't too much action to pick apart and bullpens were used pretty well in this low scoring game, I figured I would take a look at where these team's relievers stack up among the rest of the MLB.

*Statistics before today's game

*Statistics before today's game

Despite having a fairly middle of the road bullpen this season, in this series the Giants pen stood pretty strong, logging 14.1 scoreless innings if you remove Will Smith's blowup in the marathon on Monday.

The Marlins on the other hand, to no surprise of loyal fans know that the pen has been used a lot due to lack of pitching depth and efficiency.

Probably the oddest thing is that both of these teams are in the bottom four in all of baseball with 20+ blown saves each, yet both are also currently playoff teams.

The Marlins are clinging to a 0.5 game lead over the Cardinals who play the Reds at home tonight.


Source: FanGraphs

Hero of the Game: David Phelps (+.118 WPA)

Zero of the Game: J.T. Realmuto (-.155 WPA)

Play of the Game: J.T. Realmuto striking out after Ichiro's double in the 9th actually had the biggest WPA affect on the game (-.138 WPA), edging out the Crawford solo home run (+.131 WPA).