Christian Yelich tossed his bat, threw his helmet and ripped off his batting gloves, walking away in an angry huff after whiffing for the seventh time in two days and leaving behind pieces of equipment in his wake.
“I got pissed right there,” Yelich said of his seventh-inning strikeout on Sunday. “It’s been a frustrating couple of weeks for everybody. It’s no secret. It’s just how it’s been going.”
And it’s been going bad for the Marlins, who lost 7-6 to the New York Mets on Sunday and were swept in a four-game series by their division rivals for the first time ever.
Tom Koehler went from perfect to appalling, giving up seven runs in a disastrous fourth inning, and the Marlins were unable to recover even though they mounted a late comeback that fell just short.
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“That’s the second time we’ve given up seven runs in an inning,” said manager Mike Redmond. “It’s tough to win ballgames like that. We needed a deep start out of Tommy today. It was looking good for three innings and then just snowballed on him.”
Koehler breezed through the Mets lineup the first time around, retiring the first nine batters he faced, before coming unraveled in a messy fourth in which he faced eight batters and recorded only out. Koehler needed only 27 pitches to make it through the first three innings but totaled 34 alone in an exhausting fourth that he was unable to complete.
The hole he dug was much too deep for the Marlins to overcome, even though they rallied with five runs late and had the tying run on second with one out in the ninth but failed to score.
“Unfortunately, I left [Marlins relievers] out there to hang, and I hurt the ball club,” Koehler said inside a quiet clubhouse afterward. “It’s unfortunate. You want to go out there, you want to pitch well, you want to help the team out, and [Sunday] I did none of the above.”
And even on a day in which Mets ace Matt Harvey wasn’t at his best, the seven-run canyon was too great for the Marlins. The Marlins managed to chase Harvey in the seventh after scoring four runs on eight hits off the right-hander, chipping away at the 7-1 deficit Koehler helped create.
“I think we battled Harvey,” Redmond said. “He’s tough. But I’ve seen him a lot better.”
There’s a reason why Harvey might not have been his sharpest.
He phoned the Mets trainer at 7:30 Sunday morning to say that he was sick, and there was some debate internally as to whether he would even take the mound. A sick Harvey didn’t make for a bad Harvey, though.
After giving up a run in the second and being handed a 7-1 lead in the fourth, he made it until the sixth before the Marlins began to rally.
They scored a run in the sixth, two in the seventh and two more in the eighth to make it a one-run game. But they couldn’t get over the hump. After pinch-hitter Reid Brignac walked to open the ninth and advanced to second on Dee Gordon’s sacrifice bunt, Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton each grounded out to end the game.
The Mets have now won eight in a row.
“They’re playing really well right now, and we’re not,” Yelich said. “We’ve got to do a better job, and we’ve got to turn it around.”
The question is when?
The Marlins are off on Monday before opening a three-game series in Philadelphia. But they’ve shown so little life so far this season that Stanton even called the team out on it in comments following Friday’s loss. A team meeting was held Saturday.
And Sunday it was just more of the same.
Koehler said it’s still too early for anyone to panic.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a concern, but it’s definitely frustrating,” Koehler said. “To say you’re concerned when you’ve played 13 of 162, you can’t do that. But you can say you’re frustrated. Right now we’re in a little funk.”