The Arizona Diamondbacks were a giving bunch on Saturday night. Only reluctantly did the Marlins accept their generosity, however, barely escaping with a 2-1 victory.
Despite five fielding errors by the Diamondbacks, the Marlins struggled to take advantage and scraped out a win by the skin of their fingertips, thanks mostly to the pitching of Henderson Alvarez.
“Anytime a team makes five errors and you don’t capitalize on it … but we’re in one of those ruts right now offensively,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “We need to get our bats going and make it a little easier on ourselves.”
The Marlins had only five hits Saturday, and it was only the fifth and final Arizona fielding gaffe that produced the deciding run. With the score knotted at 1-1, Marcell Ozuna on third with one out in the seventh and the infield playing in, Jeff Mathis tapped a soft grounder that was fielded by shortstop Cliff Pennington.
But Pennington’s throw home was way wide of the target, and Ozuna slid in safely.
All three games in the series have been decided by one run, and five of the six meetings between the teams this season have been decided by that margin.
One run, though, was just enough for Alvarez, who returned from the disabled list to record the win, improving to 9-5. Alvarez gave up a run in the first and barely ducked out of the way of a line drive in the fourth, but still managed to turn in a strong performance.
“We’re in the middle of the [playoff] hunt, so this is an important stretch for us,” Alvarez said in Spanish through a translator.
The Marlins were not only thankful Alvarez was able to get back on the mound for them after spending time on the DL with shoulder inflammation, but that he was able to dodge Mark Trumbo’s line drive in the fourth without being injured again.
Alvarez moved his head out of the way just in time, sticking his glove up and deflecting the ball off the heel of his glove for what turned into an infield hit. Alvarez kneeled on the mound for a moment as the Marlins’ training staff came out to check on him.
“I was like, ‘Oh man — again,’ ” Redmond said.
Just recently, Marlins reliever Dan Jennings was struck in the side of the head by a line drive, and Redmond feared it might have happened a second time. As it turned out, the ball struck leather, and Alvarez remained in the game.
“It wasn’t that scary,” Alvarez said.
Redmond was even able to joke about it afterward, noting the number of times Marlins trainers have had to go out to look at Alvarez after one injury scare or another.
“I talked to Henderson and, apparently, he’s got trainer visits in his contract,” Redmond said, smiling. “He needs one more to take him over the top [for an incentive bonus]. That’s why the trainer has to go out there so much.”
Alvarez held the Diamondbacks to one run on five hits over seven innings before coming out for a pinch-hitter. It was his first start since July 29, when the All-Star pitcher landed on the DL with shoulder inflammation.
“He’s no slouch,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said of Alvarez. “He needed 21 pitches to get his last nine outs, so he really got rolling there at the end.”
Alvarez gave up solid singles to the first three batters he faced, but Ozuna bailed him out on the third of those when he threw out Ender Inciarte at the plate when he tired to score from second on a David Peralta single.
It was Ozuna’s eighth outfield assist of the season, one off the league lead.
Once again, though, the Marlins had to wait out a replay review to see if Mathis was blocking the lane to the plate under a new rule that has already hurt Miami this season.
“He gave him a great lane,” Redmond said, mocking the controversial rule governing plays at the plate. “Probably one of the better lanes I’ve seen.”