Steve Cishek says that when he is on, which is better than 90 percent of the time the past two seasons, he feels as though he can “hit a fly in the butt, just stick the spot.”
That wasn’t the case Wednesday for Cishek, however.
As he said following his 10th-inning meltdown in the Marlins’ disheartening 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks: “[On Wednesday] I felt like I couldn’t hit water if I fell out of a boat.”
Not long after the Marlins experienced a high when Donovan Solano’s two-run double put them in front, an unusually poor outing by Cishek was a punch to the stomach.
Cishek faced four batters and didn’t retire one, making it the first time in his career he ever has failed to record an out in a save situation. Cishek gave up three hits and a walk, with Paul Goldschmidt’s two-run double producing a walk-off win for last-place Arizona.
It was Cishek’s second blown save in his past four outings and third of the season.
“It’s been a frustrating past couple of weeks,” Cishek said in a quiet clubhouse. “I go in there with the same mind-set every day, just try to shoot the knees and get out of it with strikes. And for whatever reason, it’s been hit or miss the past couple of weeks. I just need to find a way to get through this rut I’m in.”
With the loss, the Marlins missed out on an opportunity to take a second consecutive road series and head off to New York one game below .500 with an off day to bask in it coming on Thursday.
Now they have two days to think about a win that slipped from their grasp.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” manager Mike Redmond said. “That’s definitely one you’ve got to have after coming back. We got to lock that down.”
Both teams struggled to get anything going offensively, with both starters throwing up blanks for five innings.
Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi was the sharpest he’s been in a while, taking a one-hitter into the seventh while keeping the Diamondbacks off the board. On the other side, Josh Collmenter was almost as effective. He didn’t allow a run until the sixth when Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly put the Marlins on top 1-0.
The score stayed that way until the eighth when the Diamondbacks finally got on the board after Nick Ahmed followed Didi Gregorious’ leadoff triple with a RBI single off Eovaldi.
Mike Dunn took over and, after being greeted with a Cody Ross pinch-hit single, managed to work out of the jam, retiring David Peralta with men at second and third on an infield pop and getting Miguel Montero to hit into an inning-ending groundout after walking Goldschmidt intentionally.
Adeiny Hechavarria singled to open the 10th and, after Christian Yelich was walked intentionally with two outs, Solano came through with a two-run double to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.
Given Cishek’s success rate, Solano figured the Marlins had it wrapped up.
“Yeah, because I believe in Cishek,” Solano said.
But it wasn’t to be. The first sign of trouble came not when Cishek took the mound at Chase Field, but as he was warming up in the bullpen and realized that his slider wasn’t working.
“Either it was up or I was just yanking it,” he said. “I was trying to find the arm slot, and I couldn’t do it. So when that usually happens, I just go out there with whatever I’ve got and attack.”
Aaron Hill’s nine-pitch at-bat to start things in the 10th culminated in a base hit.
Cishek next walked Ender Inciarte before giving up an RBI single to Peralta that trimmed the lead to 3-2. Goldschmidt followed with a two-run double in the gap that gave Arizona the victory.
Now Cishek must find a way to get past it and get back to the pitcher he was before.
“Really, I think it’s just getting in the same routine every day and getting back to where I was at the start of the season and end of last season,” he said. “I’ve got to find a way to get out of this rut.”