The Marlins reached the halfway point Monday on anything but a high note.
They dropped a 14-6 decision to the Cardinals on a night when starting pitcher Jeff Locke matched a franchise record for most earned runs allowed — 11. The only other Marlins pitcher ever to give up that many was Ricky Nolasco, who also allowed 11 earned on Aug. 17, 2011, at Colorado.
As a result, the Marlins staggered into the 81-game mark having lost five of their past six games to go to 36-45.
“The season doesn’t get easier and baseball doesn’t feel bad for you,” Locke said after his record fell to 0-5. “It happens to a bunch of guys everyday. You just don’t want it to be you.”
Locke threw 84 pitches, gave up 11 hits, walked four (one intentionally) and lasted just 2 2/3 innings before manager Don Mattingly had to turn to his bullpen for the second time in three days to mop up extensive innings.
On Saturday, starter Tom Koehler failed to make it through the second, forcing the bullpen into early duty. On Monday, the bullpen was forced to cover 5 1/3 innings.
“Obviously, nothing really went his way,” Mattingly said of Locke, whom the Marlins signed to a one-year, $3 million deal during the winter. “(He) pretty much got hit around from the beginning. Didn’t seem to be able to miss anything.”
Said Locke: “It got out of hand fast. Everything you guys saw was the same thing I saw too. There’s no rhyme or reason or answer I could give you that you guys probably couldn’t solve.”
After spending the first part of the season on the disabled list, Locke is off to a rocky start for the Marlins. He is now two consecutive losses away from equaling the team record, which Edinson Volquez set earlier in the season, for most straight losing decisions to begin a Marlins career: seven.
With Monday’s performance, Locke’s ERA climbed to 8.16.
“A game like today is a non-competitive game,” Locke said. “The game’s over before it starts.”
Locke was in trouble early, giving up four straight hits to start the game. But the wheels came off in the third when the Cardinals erupted for seven runs.
“They did all the damage they really needed to do in the first inning,” Locke said.
The Marlins broke through for six runs in the fifth off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. But they never got closer, and the Cardinals added on three more runs late.
“We had that big inning today,” Locke said of the fifth. “But the damage had been done at the point. It was too late.”
The Marlins are fading quickly as the season marches on toward the All-Star break. They haven’t enjoyed a winning season since 2009, a drought that looks as thought it will continue for another year.
“It’s hard to say you feel too positive when we had higher hopes than this,” Mattingly said of the season in general. “This game was kind of a pretty good little synopsis of our season. We’ve swung the bats pretty well. We’ve had our ups and downs pitching in different nights.”