If there is a silver lining for the Marlins to take away from Wednesday afternoon’s 1-0 series-sweeping loss to the Padres, it’s this: at least nobody else was injured.
On a day utility man Chris Valaika became the 12th Marlins player sent to the disabled list this season and the team was forced to call up another top minor-league prospect to help fill an injury void, the punchless Marlins wasted Ricky Nolasco’s best effort of the season because they again couldn’t deliver the big hit.
Nolasco struck out a season-high nine — his most since he whiffed 11 on May 6, 2011 — and scattered four hits over seven innings of one run-ball, but fell to 2-4 because he gave up a what turned out to be the game-winning sacrifice fly to Yonder Alonso with the bases-loaded in the sixth.
“It’s frustrating [to pitch that well and take the loss], but I put myself in a bad situation there,” Nolasco said. “I lost us the game by walking Carlos Quentin. I had an 0-2 count and couldn’t put him away. I ended up walking him [to load the bases] and that was the game right there.”
Padres right-hander Jason Marquis became the sixth starter this season to contribute to a shutout of the Marlins. He gave up five hits, one walk and struck out three over eight innings. Closer Huston Street pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his eighth save.
The Marlins (10-25) didn’t produce many scoring opportunities, but had a golden opportunity when Derek Dietrich, the aforementioned replacement for Valaika and the franchise’s No. 8 prospect who was called up Wednesday, opened the third inning with a single in his first major league at-bat and moved to third on Miguel Olivo’s double to left. The Marlins, though, left both of them stranded.
After getting out of a bases-loaded jam that inning by getting Adeiny Hechavarria to bounce into a double play on a hot hopper back to the mound, Marquis (4-2) retired 12 in a row before Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs singled with two outs in the seventh.
That brought the 23-year-old Dietrich — whose parents made an early morning flight from Cleveland to watch him play — to the plate. He eventually swung and missed a 2-2 sinker from Marquis in the dirt for strike three.
“Credit to him, he made the pitches when he needed to,” said Dietrich, who fielded a hard line drive to open the game. “I’m sure I’ll be in that situation again soon and get the job done.”
In all, the Marlins produced just one run of offense in San Diego over 27 innings and finished 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position in the series. Wednesday’s 0-for-3 performance with runners in scoring position marked the fifth time during this West Coast trip the Marlins finished hitless in those situations.
But as jarring as those numbers are, it’s not nearly as ugly as the number of injuries piling up. By sending Chris Valaika to the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a fractured left wrist, the Marlins have now sent 12 different players to the DL this season (11 are currently there). That’s the most in baseball. Counting Wednesday, the Marlins have lost a major-league-leading 320 days of player availability. The Yankees are second with 279.
With Donovan Solano and Valaika going to the DL on back-to-back days, Dietrich, a former second round pick of the Rays in 2010, will see plenty of action at second base over the next few weeks Redmond said. In his 28 games with the Suns this season, Dietrich was hitting .282 with four homers and 16 RBI. Dietrich said he spent the past five games playing third base, but saw the majority of his action at second this season.
Dietrich said he got a phone call at 1:50 a.m. from Double A Jacksonville Suns manager Andy Barkett at 1:50 a.m. Wednesday morning informing him he was being called up. Dietrich played all 13 innings of the Suns’ loss just a few hours before in Jacksonville and said he took a 6:30 a.m. flight to Atlanta before getting on a cross-country flight to San Diego to make it to Wednesday’s game. He arrived at Petco Park less than two hours before first pitch.
Dietrich said he got about two hours of sleep on his way to the stadium, but was fine to make the start. “I’ve probably got enough adrenaline to get me going at least through the week,” he said.
The Marlins certainly need him to stay healthy. There just aren’t many other options.
“I remember my major-league debut — I didn’t sleep either, and I had a pretty good day,” Redmond said. “He’s one of those guys we look at as being part of the future. To get him up here and get him the experience is great. We’ll see how he does. If he comes up and has success and does well, it puts a lot of pressure on other guys, and us to make a decision. Hopefully, that happens.”