John Maine spent the better part of three years on the comeback trail to the major leagues with one number on his mind: five.
That’s the number of pitches Maine threw in his last big-league outing for the Mets on May 20, 2010. Monday, Maine pitched the ninth inning for the Marlins and gave up a pair of hits but got out of the jam without giving up any runs — a victory for at least one Marlin on a night when a lot didn’t go right.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I got through it. I needed to get the first one out of the way regardless,” said Maine, who said he had not faced a hitter in 12 days dating to spring training before Monday.
“My last outing was five pitches [with the Mets], and I wanted to do better than that. That was one of the motivating things for me the last two years. I didn’t want to end [my career] on that.”
Maine was competing for a spot in the starting rotation until the final two weeks of camp. As much as he would like to be in the rotation, he wasn’t surprised or upset the Marlins didn’t call on him when they had two starters go on the disabled list just before the start of the season. He said he would not have had enough time to stretch his arm out. He’s just happy he’s getting a chance to work out of the bullpen. Monday, he became the last Marlins reliever to enter a game this season.
“For a guy who hadn’t thrown in a few days, he did really well,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Now we’ve got everybody in the bullpen into a game. That’s a good sign; hopefully, it’s a sign guys are settling in and starting to relax.”
After striking out 10 times and swinging at bad pitches during the opening six-game road trip, Giancarlo Stanton on Monday night displayed the kind of patience the team wants him to have this season. He drew a career-high three walks in a game against the Braves.
It’s the first time this season an opponent didn’t give Stanton anything to hit, according to Redmond. Stanton, hitting only .174 (4 for 23) with no homers or RBI, did strike out once looking. But the effort was a sign he’s being more selective and waiting to swing at the pitches he wants to swing at.
Stanton estimated he saw “probably two” pitches he wanted to swing at Monday. Stanton saw 21 pitches in all. He fouled off two and took another five for strikes. Only two of the pitches in the strike zone were fastballs.
“He just has to continue to prepare himself and be ready to hit,” Redmond said.
Adeiny Hechavarria’s sliding behind-the-head catch in Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Braves earned top Web Gem honors on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight telecast.
Hechavarria, who ran a long way from short and into foul territory in shallow left field to make the grab, said Tuesday he didn’t know if he had a chance at first to make the grab.
• Wednesday: Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia (1-0, 0.00) vs. Braves LHP Mike Minor (1-0, 1.23), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Thursday: Off.
• Scouting report: Minor went 1-2 and posted a 3.98 ERA against the Marlins in four starts last season. Sanabia hasn’t pitched against the Braves since 2010. He went 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against Atlanta that season.