Walks are anathema to Ricky Nolasco, which is why he wore a pained look in Tuesday’s second inning. Not only did Nolasco issue back-to-back walks — rare for him — he did so with the bases loaded.
And so it continues to go for the beleaguered Marlins, who began a nine-game homestand by maintaining their firm hold on last place with a 6-2 setback to the Cincinnati Reds.
The walks hurt Nolasco, as did Xavier Paul’s bases-loaded double that immediately followed as the Reds put the game away early with a five-run second inning.
All of it happened with one out.
“Frustrating, obviously,” Nolasco said.
While the Marlins have found all variety of manner in which to lose, Tuesday’s was a surprising scenario given Nolasco’s exceptional control. Since 2006, the year he made his major-league debut, Nolasco has the sixth-lowest ratio of walks per nine innings among pitchers who have totaled at least 1,000 innings.
According to Stats LLC, Nolasco had walked back-to-back batters (excluding intentional walks) only 10 times in a career totaling 203 pitching appearances.
What’s more, he had issued a grand total of just four walks with the bases loaded, and never more than once in any of his eight seasons. On Tuesday, he did it twice in a matter of minutes.
That’s all the time it took for the Reds’ Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to draw bases-loaded walks during an inning in which Nolasco — his marksmanship clearly off — also hit a batter.
Nolasco credited Votto with a good at-bat.
“He laid off some good pitches and fouled off a couple,” Nolasco said.
But Nolasco was kicking himself for the walk to Phillips, blaming poor mechanics on the second of the two bases-loaded walks.
The performance was Nolasco’s worst of the season, the first time he allowed as many as five runs (he was charged with six in five innings).
And though he only walked the two, they could not have come at a less desirable time.
“I’ve been doing a good job of staying away from that big crooked inning all year,” Nolasco said, “but it got me today.”
Once again, the worst run-scoring offense in the majors was up to its usual standard, squeezing out just one run off Reds starter Homer Bailey. That came in the first inning when rookie Derek Dietrich, hitting in the third spot in the lineup in front of fellow rookie Marcell Ozuna, delivered a run-scoring single.
It was the 38th different batting order used by manager Mike Redmond in the team’s 39 games.
Beyond Dietrich’s RBI hit, the Marlins didn’t do much.
Redmond said the Marlins’ anemic offense contributes to outings such as the one Nolasco endured Tuesday.
“It all kind of stems from our offense,” Redmond said. “Going out there, he knows he can’t give up much.
“He’s trying to be perfect and trying to make too good of pitches, and ends up walking a couple of guys.”
But Nolasco refused to use the team’s lack of offense as an excuse.
“You got to go out there and get people out,” he said. “Everybody knows what’s going on. We still got to go out there and continue pitching.
“You can’t go out there with that mind-set. Then everything just starts going bad.”
The Marlins managed only three hits — all singles — off Bailey from the second inning through the sixth before Adeiny Hechavarria tripled and scored on catcher Rob Brantly’s sacrifice fly in the seventh.
The complete game for Bailey was the fourth of his career and first since no-hitting the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 28 of last season. His 10 strikeouts matched a career high. His 125 pitches were the most he had ever thrown in a game.