All of the early signs Friday night indicated a shootout, with the Marlins and Diamondbacks combining for five runs in the first inning. From there, it quieted into a slow-drip pitcher’s battle, and it was Arizona that prevailed in a 3-2 victory at Marlins Park.
Neither team managed to score after the first, and the Marlins grounded into four double plays, one shy of the franchise record.
“It didn’t have the makings of those being the last runs scored, the way the game started off,” Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee said. “I was surprised the way it ended up the same score after the first and in the ninth. But sometimes baseball is a crazy game.”
Lost again, for the Marlins, was another chance to get back to .500 and continue to put themselves in a challenging position for a late-season playoff run. But against a Diamondbacks team that isn’t going anywhere, they came up short at the plate.
After scoring two runs on four hits off Trevor Cahill, the Marlins mustered only two more hits the rest of the way as the bats fizzled.
The problem for the Marlins was their inability to break through against Cahill, who brought a 2-8 record and a 4.86 ERA into Friday. Making his 10th start of the season to go with 15 relief appearances, Cahill didn’t look as though he would last long when he gave up four first-inning singles. Two of those, which belonged to Giancarlo Stanton and Garrett Jones, drove in runs.
But after the first, Cahill held the Marlins to two hits over the next 5 2/3 innings. And the Marlins grounded into those four double plays. McGehee grounded into a pair and now owns the Marlins’ record for grounding into the most double plays in a season with 25. The previous mark of 22 was set by Greg Colbrunn in 1996.
The major-league record of 36 double plays is held by Hall of Famer Jim Rice.
“They hurt us [Friday night] for sure,” McGehee said. “It gets frustrating sometimes. The first one I can live with. I felt like I hit the ball hard. I just hit it right at a guy. At the same time, you can’t go up there and think about it.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia also grounded into a pair of double plays, both times with two runners aboard: once in the first inning and again in the eighth when the Marlins were threatening to tie it or even go ahead.
On the season, the Marlins have grounded into 103 double plays, the second-highest amount in the National League.
It was an uneven outing by Marlins starter Brad Hand, who is vying with Brad Penny for a spot in the rotation. With Henderson Alvarez due to return from the disabled list Saturday, the Marlins will have six starters to consider, and one will likely be squeezed to the bullpen.
Hand was rocked early Friday, giving up a pair of home runs in the first. Cliff Pennington tagged him for a solo homer, and Aaron Hill followed later in the inning with a two-run blast that put the Marlins in a 3-0 hole.
While Hand — like Cahill — toughened up after that, delivering six scoreless innings before exiting for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, he also received plenty of help from Marlins fielders.
Adeiny Hechavarria made a leaping grab on Tuffy Gosewisch’s liner, preventing a base hit. Donovan Solano did the same on a Didi Gregorius liner in the fifth. Marcell Ozuna had to make a diving catch in center as well. But given his shaky beginning, Hand managed to settle down and keep the Marlins in it the rest of the way.
Hand’s record fell to 2-5.
Alvarez will head to the mound on Saturday night for the Marlins for the first time in more than two weeks. To make room for him, the team optioned right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani after Friday’s game.