The Marlins are heading back home still searching for their first series victory of the season on the road.
Dillon Gee made sure of that. A day after the Marlins rallied from a 5-1 deficit to win only their second road game of the season, the right-hander shut their bats down Sunday afternoon, tossing eight scoreless innings in a 4-0 Mets victory at Citi Field.
“He was just going right after us with his two-seamer because it was moving so much,” said Garrett Jones, who had one of the three Marlins hits on Sunday. “It was tough to square up. Guys were fouling it off and getting behind in the count. I don’t know if it was the breeze, but it was moving a lot, and he was throwing it where he wanted to and very effective.”
Sunday’s loss marked only the second time this season the Marlins have been shut out. They were blanked an MLB-high 18 times last season.
Marlins starter Tom Koehler, meanwhile, had a rough homecoming, lasting only five innings and surrendering four earned runs, four walks and five hits on 109 pitches.
Earlier this week in Atlanta, Koehler tied Kevin Brown for the most consecutive starts to begin a season with at least six innings pitched and two runs or less. He also came into Sunday’s game on the heels of back-to-back starts against the Mets dating to last August in which he didn’t allow a run through six and eight innings work.
Sunday, though, he just didn’t have his best stuff.
“I felt fine — just couldn’t execute,” Koehler said. “A lot of deep counts, a lot of situations where they were in hitter’s counts. And even when I did throw strikes, it was across location and not necessarily getting the ball exactly where I wanted to.”
After retiring the Mets in order in the first, Koehler needed 34 pitches to get through the second. He walked Daniel Murphy, plunked Chris Young and then gave up a ground-rule double to left to Lucas Duda to fall behind 1-0. Koehler recovered and got out of the jam.
But the Mets tacked on three more runs in the fifth. David Wright doubled off the wall in left to drive in a run, and then Young battled through an 11-pitch at-bat before doubling the Mets’ lead with a towering, two-run home run to left field.
“Obviously I walked my fair share of guys up to that point,” Koehler said. “At the same time, I wasn’t going to give in. I kept throwing strike, strike, strike and he kept fouling it off. Then I kind of a hung 3-2 slider there and he got me.”
The Marlins’ bats hardly helped. Jones struck out with a runner in scoring position in the fourth, Marcell Ozuna bounced into a double play after a leadoff walk in the sixth, and Adeiny Hechavarria bounced into an inning-ending double play in the seventh after the first two runners in the inning reached base.
Entering Sunday’s game, Gee ranked fourth in the majors with a 2.87 ERA since May 30 of last year — with only Zack Greinke Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright posting better numbers. He dominated a Marlins lineup which has struggled on the road all season.
The Marlins finished the six-game road trip 40-for-201 (.199) with 14 runs scored — half of those in Saturday’s come-from-behind win. Miami struck out 71 times on the trip in all.
“We had plenty of opportunities in Atlanta to win at least two of those games and really should have won two of these games as well,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We know we’re right there but at the same time we’ve got to execute, we’ve got to execute better offensively, we’ve got to execute better pitching-wise. Hopefully we can start that when we get home.”
Among the few positives for the Miami Sunday: Carter Capps made his Marlins debut in relief in the sixth and tossed two scoreless innings. He hit 99 mph on the radar gun and struck out three without a walk.
The Marlins will open a three-game series against the Braves on Tuesday at Marlins Park with ace Jose Fernandez on the mound. Miami is 9-4 at home.
“Just because we’re going home doesn’t mean we’re going to start winning,” Koehler said. “We’ve got to get back to playing our style of baseball, and that’s pitching, playing defense and timely hitting. When we do those three things, we’re a dangerous club. When we lack doing one of those three things, we’re going to get ourselves in trouble.’’