Edinson Volquez made Major League history on Tuesday, and it was a mixture of good and bad — mostly the latter. In a Jekyll and Hyde performance, the veteran pitcher for the Marlins didn’t just walk eight batters while striking out nine. He did it all in under five innings in the Marlins’ 3-1 loss to the Rays.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no starting pitcher in baseball’s modern era had ever done all that before. A couple of pitchers — Daniel Cabrera in 2006 and Bobby Witt in 1998 — had managed to walk at least eight while whiffing nine or more.
But in both instances, they completed exactly five innings.
Volquez did not. He was lifted with one out in the fifth due to a significant blister on his right thumb that could prevent him from making his next start. The blister surfaced in the first inning and worsened as the innings wore on.
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“Look at that baby, my little friend right here,” Volquez said, showing the dime-sized blister to reporters afterward. “I’ve had it before. But this is really bad right now. I’ve never had it like this.”
Manager Don Mattingly said that based on the trainer’s report, it’s very possible Volquez will be forced to miss his next start, which would come Sunday in New York.
“He thought it was iffy just because of the size and redness,” Mattingly said.
It was clear something was amiss with Volquez. The right-hander recorded only three contact outs.
Otherwise, it was one extreme to the next for Volquez, with the second inning providing a fitting example of his erratic swings. After getting strike three looking calls on Steven Souza Jr. and Tim Beckham to start the inning, he walked the next two batters before striking out Rays starter Alex Cobb.
Volquez gave up a solo homer to Logan Morrison in the third and two more runs in the fifth before coming out. When pitching coach Juan Nieves went to the mound to confer with Volquez, the pitcher told him the blister was making it close to impossible to throw.
“I think he knew at that point,” Mattingly said. “When Juan came out there to check on him, he basically said you better get somebody going (in the bullpen). I think he knew he was in danger of doing bigger damage to it.”
Volquez said he tried to pitch through the blister, adjusting his grip to avoid the sensitive area.
“I had like 20 different grips today to throw the ball to the plate,” he said.
Volquez said he has dealt with blisters in the past, but none to the extent of the current one.
“I never missed a start with a blister,” he said. “This is really bad right now.”
Including Volquez, Marlins pitchers struck out 15 batters Tuesday and walked a total of 11. But they still managed to hold the Rays to only three runs. The lineup was held to only six hits in a continuation of an offensive slump that persisted throughout the five-game home stand.
Their only run came in the eighth on a Giancarlo Stanton RBI double. Stanton went 2 for 18 during the home stand but wasn’t the only Marlins hitter to struggle.
“Bad home stand,” Stanton said. “No energy.”
The Marlins have lost six of their past seven, falling to 11-14 overall and just a half-game in front of the last-place Mets in the National League East.
“It’s not working on either side right now,” Mattingly said of the Marlins, who pitched and hit poorly in the five games against the Pirates and Rays.
As for Volquez, he put his name in the record books, thanks in no small part to a blister.
“I’m in the books now,” Volquez said with a chuckle. “It’s crazy.”