Nathan Eovaldi was a proud dad when he took the mound Wednesday.
But Eovaldi failed to celebrate the birth of his first child with a victory as the Chicago Cubs pinned a 6-1 loss on Eovaldi and the Marlins.
Eovaldi, who was returning to the mound for the first time since Sunday’s delivery in Texas, gave up four runs in the sixth, including a three-run homer by Nate Schierholtz, as the Cubs took two out of three in the series.
“It was nice being home,” Eovaldi said of his paternity leave to attend the birth of his son. “But you’ve got to come back and perform.”
For the most part, Eovaldi performed for five innings.
But then came the sixth, when the Cubs put the game away. Schierholtz delivered the big blow, a three-run shot to give Chicago a 5-1 cushion that was more than enough. Eovaldi said he hung a slider that Schierholtz walloped. It has been happening a lot lately to the Marlins’ starters, who have struggled to stay afloat following the loss of Jose Fernandez from the rotation.
“It’s like we’ll hit that groove and be coasting, and then that one inning it tumbles on us,” Eovaldi said of the starters’ struggles. “We’ve got to bear down.”
The last-place Cubs defeated the Marlins in four of their six meetings over the past two weeks.
The only scoring for the Marlins came in the first when Giancarlo Stanton clubbed his 20th home run, an opposite-field shot off Jake Arrieta.
But Arrieta was unyielding after that, striking out 11 before exiting after the seventh.
Stanton came out of the game in the seventh with a left wrist contusion, but the injury is not believed to be serious and he expects to play Thursday when the Marlins open a four-game series against the Mets.
“I hit the wall on [Chris] Coghlan’s double,” Stanton said of Coghlan’s first-inning hit. “And it just kept getting tighter and tighter the rest of the game.”
Stanton said the first discomfort he noticed was during his at-bat in the first inning when he swung and missed at an Arrieta pitch. But he still managed to put another ball over the fence, sore wrist and all.
“It didn’t feel too bad on contact,” he said. “The swings and misses are when it hurts a lot.”
Said Marlins manager Mike Redmond: “I saw him kind of grimace during his first at-bat, but then he hit the home run, so I wasn’t too concerned. As the game went along, I think it continued to get a little bit sore on him. At that point, being down 5-1, we just wanted to make sure we got him out of there. We need this guy for the long haul.”
Stanton popped out to the infield on his second at-bat and struck out swinging on his third before coming out of the game. The Marlins had only five hits off Cubs pitching, and Stanton’s homer was their only extra-base hit.
Still, it was starting pitching that continued to raise concerns for the Marlins.
“This has been a common theme for our starting pitchers, is not being able to get through that sixth inning, or sometimes that fifth inning, or giving up big numbers,” Redmond said. “You can survive with one-run [innings]. But the big innings are what kill you, and that did [Wednesday], for sure.”
Over his past two starts, Eovaldi has given up 11 earned runs on 19 hits in only 10 2/3 innings.
“They’re still young guys,” Redmond said of the rotation. “You look at their track records, they still have not pitched a ton of major-league games. So it is still a continued work in progress for these guys. We need those guys to set the tone and step up.”