It was a long one. It just wasn’t a successful one.
The Marlins wrapped up a franchise-long, 7,193-mile road trip in lethargic fashion, dropping a 3-2 decision Thursday afternoon to the Phillies and leaving manager Don Mattingly contemplating change.
“We might have to do some things a little differently,” Mattingly said cryptically, refusing to go into specifics.
Mattingly was frustrated over what he saw as a lack of energy in the two-game series with the Phillies, both of which ended in defeats and left the Marlins (10-10) with a 3-5 mark for the trip that also took them to Seattle and San Diego.
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Asked just how frustrated he was, Mattingly replied: “A lot, actually.”
“We come here and you don’t feel a lot of energy,” Mattingly said. “I don’t know if was two days off [Monday and Tuesday]. Didn’t show a lot of juice even as we were kind of getting back in it.”
As usual, the Marlins were stymied by Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson (4-0), who has given them fits for two seasons. Utilizing a changeup that keeps Marlins hitters off balance, Hellickson chalked up another win and is now 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA in his past seven starts against them.
Mattingly was hopeful that Marlins hitters would finally figure him out.
“It’s still a work in progress that we’re not able to get into him a little bit,” Mattingly said. “We just keep giving him that first strike, where he runs the ball off the plate and we’re swinging. I see numerous swings where it’s ball one. Instead of [being] 1-0, it’s 0-1.
“I think that’s one of the areas we’ve got to improve on is not chasing out of the strike zone early in the count to put him in situations where he can do what he wants.”
It’s no wonder the Marlins tried unsuccessfully to trade for Hellickson last season — just to not have to face him.
On Thursday, he held the Marlins to one run over six innings.
The Marlins wasted what precious few chances they had against him, coming up empty after putting runners on the corners with no outs in the fourth when Hellickson struck out Giancarlo Stanton before retiring Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto.
The Phillies (11-9), winners of six in a row, put a quick run on the board in the first off Edinson Volquez (0-3), added another in the third and came up with a key run in the sixth when Michael Saunders eluded Realmuto’s tag at the plate on Brock Stassi’s triple.
The throw got to Realmuto in time, but Saunders reached over the catcher’s outstretched glove and touched his hand on the plate.
“I came up the line a little bit to get the throw so I could make sure I caught it in the air and then came back to tag him,” Realmuto said. “I think I tagged him up in the chest area. I thought I had him. I guess he just got his hand in there.”
It gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead and proved significant later when the Marlins answered in the seventh with a run on Christian Yelich’s two-out single off Phillies reliever Pat Neshek.
But the Phillies bullpen set down the final seven Marlins hitters to close out the victory.
It’s the Marlins’ repeated shortcomings with Hellickson that most bothered Mattingly.
“We had a couple of chances there, put a couple of guys on and don’t do anything with him,” Mattingly said.