A bullpen that has been bullish of late for the Marlins went belly up on Tuesday.
After Jose Fernandez had turned in seven shutout innings, David Phelps surrendered the game-tying home run in the eighth before Mike Dunn lost it in the 10th in a 3-2 loss to the Braves.
“That one hurts,” Phelps said. “Jose goes out and does his thing, and that’s what we’ve come to expect out of him.”
The Marlins are having all sorts of issues with the last-place Braves this season. They have now gone 1-6 against Atlanta and are winless in Marlins Park so far versus the Braves.
“The Braves, man. They’re playing us tough this year,” Phelps said. “Tip your caps to them. They’re putting it to us right now.”
For seven innings, the Marlins and Fernandez had it all under control.
Fernandez was showing some cobwebs when he came out of hibernation on Monday after not pitching in 10 days. He walked a batter, gave up an infield single, and threw 26 pitches.
“The first inning was a little rough,” Fernandez said.
And then he became Jose Fernandez again.
Fernandez didn’t allow a run or a hit over his next six innings and, perhaps most pleasing of all to the Marlins, he conserved his pitch count by recording outs by contact.
Fernandez finished with seven K’s, including strikeouts of the final two batters he faced. But he threw just 51 pitches from the second inning through the sixth, which enabled him to make it through seven and spare a tired bullpen. What led to his removal was a 19-pitch seventh inning and the fact he was due up next in the Marlins’ half of the inning.
“The seventh dictates the eighth,” said manager Don Mattingly. “And the seventh was rough and he has to battle. You felt like he was at the end of his rope right there. If the seventh’s quick, he has a chance to go back out. But it wasn’t.”
Why, Fernandez even helped himself with the bat, driving in the Marlins’ first run with a second inning single. Adeiny Hechavarria drove in the other with a two-out single in the fourth.
But it all collapsed in the eighth when Phelps took over.
Phelps gave up a leadoff single to Emilio Bonifacio. One out later, he gave up Jace Peterson’s first home run of the season to tie it.
“It was a cutter that didn’t cut and turns into a bad fastball,” Phelps said. “I had pretty good success against Jace in the past. Credit him. I made a bad pitch and he did what he’s supposed to do with it.”
Kyle Barraclough started the 10th by giving up a leadoff walk to Chase d’Arnaud, then a sacrifice bunt to Bonifacio. After he struck out Jeff Francouer, though, Mattingly decided to bring in Dunn to face the left-handed Peterson. That move backfired.
Mattingly said he thought briefly of allowing Barraclough to remain in. But with five straight left-handers due up for the Braves, he opted for his southpaw.
“Thought about it,” Mattingly said. “But with Peterson and his numbers, and lefties coming. I thought we were in a better spot (with Dunn).”
Dunn uncorked a wild pitch, sending the runner to third, before giving up the go-ahead hit to Peterson.