Jose Urena didn’t help his case to remain a part of the Marlins’ revamped starting rotation.
Following two impressive starts, Urena suffered the worst outing of his career as the Cardinals dealt the Marlins an 11-6 loss on Friday night at Marlins Park.
Ichiro Suzuki started in left field for Christian Yelich but went 0 for 4, remaining two hits short of the 3,000-hit milestone for his major-league career.
Although Ichiro didn’t get the hits he needed to make history, he showed he still has a powerful and accurate arm at age 42. In the fourth inning, Ichiro fired a perfect throw to J.T. Realmuto to keep Kolten Wong from scoring an additional run.
“It’s just textbook, fundamental, the way he plays, and that’s so lost nowadays,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who remained noncommittal as to whether Ichiro would start Saturday but said it was unlikely. “He’s so technically sound and plays the game the right way, it’s really fun to watch.”
A bigger concern than Ichiro’s lack of hits Friday — on a day in which the Marlins traded for two starting pitchers, Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea — was Urena surrendering a career-worst eight runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Rea and Cashner will make the next two scheduled starts for the Marlins on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
“My two-seamer and changeup was on the side, and I tried to force it getting it down [in the strike zone] and I couldn’t,” Urena said.
Five of the runs Urena allowed came during a six-run fifth inning for the Cardinals (56-47), who pulled ahead of the Marlins (55-48) in the National League wild-card standings.
Urena allowed two runs combined and walked one over his previous two starts, but he walked four on Friday.
Urena also hit two batters during a three-run second inning in which he gave up a home run to Jeremy Hazelbaker and a double to Kolten Wong, who also singled and tripled.
Urena ran into more trouble in the fifth, walking two (one intentional) and giving up three hits, including a double to Yadier Molina and a single to Tommy Pham that ended his night after 97 pitches.
“Just from talking with [catcher] J.T. [Realmuto], [Urena] was more sideways [with his pitches] today, cutting side-to-side more so than the sink,” Mattingly said. “He did a better job of keeping [the ball] in the strike zone and forcing the ball over the plate.”
Mike Dunn entered with the bases loaded and the Cardinals leading 5-1, and allowed all three inherited runners to score plus one more.
Martin Prado sparked a five-run outburst for the Marlins in the bottom of the fifth with a three-run homer to left field. It was Prado’s second home run in as many games after hitting only three this season to that point.
“It’s been a long journey this year to figure it out,” said Prado, who had his team-best 36th multi-hit game and is ranked third in the NL in batting average at .327.
“The hitting is so complicated because sometimes you think you need to swing harder to be able to drive the ball, but it’s all mechanical. And I’m a mechanical guy, so sometimes if my mechanics are out of whack my power doesn’t show. Sometimes you get lucky and you get the right pitch to hit.”
The home run followed consecutive run-scoring doubles by Miguel Rojas and Chris Johnson and cut the deficit to 9-6.
But after the Marlins nearly turned a double play that would have ended the sixth, Pham smacked a two-run home run off Nick Wittgren that gave the Cardinals a more comfortable cushion again.
The Marlins managed only two hits after the fifth inning. Dee Gordon collected his first two hits, a pair of singles, since returning from his 80-game suspension.
“Obviously, you’re happy your club bounces right back,” Mattingly said. “The next inning is really what hurts you. We have the double-play ball there. If we get out of there at 9-6, you’re looking at four innings of at-bats and down three. It’s a different tone in your club. As soon as you give up that two [runs], you can’t say it’s a back-breaker because you can do anything and anything’s possible, but you give it right back momentum-wise.”