The Marlins weren’t going 162-0. And Johnny Vander Meer or no Johnny Vander Meer, Henderson Alvarez probably wasn’t going to kick off his season the same way he capped off his last one — with a second consecutive no-hitter.
After two impressive victories to start the season, the Marlins looked about as bad as a team could in a putrid 6-5 loss on Wednesday night to the Colorado Rockies. At least for the first few innings.
First there was Alvarez.
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Not only did he give up a base hit to the first batter he faced (so much for that minor bit of drama), he gave up six hits — not to mention three runs — in just the first inning. It was the most hits ever allowed by Alvarez in a frame, surpassing the five he once surrendered while still a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“You could tell early on a lot of his pitches were over the plate,” manager Mike Redmond said.
But that was only the beginning. The fourth inning proved to be even more damaging for the Marlins, for they had made up part of the early deficit by scoring a run in their half of the first on Garrett Jones’ first RBI hit.
The fourth began when shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria fielded a sharp ground ball but, with plenty of time to throw, pulled Jones off the bag at first with a wide heave, allowing the Rockies a base runner. Then, after a single, a potential double-play grounder was hit to Derek Dietrich at second. But as he pivoted, he lost his footing, and his off-target throw pulled Hechavarria off the bag.
The runner was called safe and Dietrich was charged with an error, the second one of the inning for the Marlins.
Or was the runner safe? Was Hechavarria’s foot on the bag at the moment Dietrich’s throw landed in his glove? The Marlins thought so, at least, and for the first time challenged the call under baseball’s new rules that permit video reviews.
The verdict: after huddling and talking to the video control folks in New York, umpires signaled that the original call was upheld, that — at the very least — replays were inconclusive.
“We gave them some extra outs,” Redmond said. “We’re not able to give teams more than 27 outs. Ended up being the difference in the game.”
It was certainly a long and arduous inning to endure for Alvarez, who promptly uncorked a wild pitch that not only allowed a run to score but left him shaken up briefly in the process, as he was run into while covering home. He then walked Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles, and it was off to the showers.
Redmond brought in long man Kevin Slowey, who temporarily left his pinpoint control in the bullpen, as he walked the first batter he faced, with the bases loaded, to force in another run. After that, Slowey was lights out. He did what a long man is supposed to do, which is cover a number of innings and preserve the rest of the pen.
Slowey also held the Rockies at bay and gave the Marlins a chance to inch back into the scoreboard picture, which they did in the sixth when Giancarlo Stanton connected on his first home run of the season — a two-run missile to right — and reliever Adam Ottavino’s wild pitch scored another run, making it 6-4.
But Ottavino also doused the rally by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marcell Ozuna and Hechavarria to end the inning.
The Marlins cut the lead to one run in the ninth on Stanton’s RBI single. Earlier in the at-bat, with two aboard, Stanton nearly belted a walk-off home run, but the ball was just foul.
Jones popped out to third to end the game.