Two hundred and thirty five pitches were thrown Saturday at Marlins Park. The only one that mattered was the first: Tom Koehler’s fastball to Gerardo Parra that ended up in the Marlins bullpen for a home run.
Call it a one-and-done ballgame.
Parra’s blast proved to be the only run of the night as the Arizona Diamondbacks handed the Marlins their major league-leading eighth shutout loss of the season 1-0.
According to Stats LLC, it is only the second major-league game over the past 25 years — which is as far back as the stat firm can check — in which a home run on the first pitch of game turned out to be the game’s only run.
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The only other time it happened also involved the Marlins.
On Sept. 14, 1993, at Sun Life Stadium, Pittsburgh’s Carlos Garcia’s first-pitch home run off Chris Hammond also resulted in a 1-0 win. But that game was called after six innings.
“At least I made history,” Koehler said with sarcasm.
Koehler was unhappy that he served up a middle-of-the-plate fastball to Parra, a notorious first-pitch swinger, with the very first pitch of the game. Parra sent it over the wall for his fourth homer of the season.
“He’s a 40 percent first-pitch swinger, which is pretty high, even for a leadoff hitter,” Koehler said. “I was trying to throw a first-pitch strike, but I don’t think you could put it on a tee any better. He swings first pitch, and he got exactly what he was looking for and took care of it. It turned out to be the deciding pitch of the game.”
Koehler said he intended to throw the first pitch down and away, “but it stayed middle the whole way, found his barrel, and he hit it into our bullpen.”
It was just another example of how things have been going for the Marlins, who are mired in a season-long seven-game losing streak. For the worst scoring team in the majors, one run is a steep mountain.
Since scoring 14 runs in Philadelphia on May 5, the Marlins have totaled only 17 over the past 11 games, 10 of which have resulted in losses. Koehler just happened to be the latest pitcher to suffer because of a lack of run support.
Not that the Marlins didn’t have any scoring chances against Brandon McCarthy, who limited the Marlins to three hits while throwing the third complete game shutout of his career.
Just after Parra put Arizona on top in the first, the Marlins put two aboard with two outs for Chris Coghlan, who ripped a single into right. But Parra proved to be just as dangerous with his arm as he is with his bat and threw Derek Dietrich out at the plate.
“It’s a bang-bang play, could have gone either way,” manager Mike Redmond said. “They had one really good swing to lead off the game — an ambush — and that proved to be the difference.”
Koehler, who was making only his third major-league start, held Arizona to only three hits over six innings and, outside of the one pitch, looked impressive. A relief trio of Ryan Webb, Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek took over for Koehler and held Arizona to one hit over the final three innings.
“I think that’s seven in a row and each one hurts,” Koehler said of the losing streak. “We’re losing the ballgames, but as a team we’re all coming to the ballpark with our heads up. Eventually, it’s going to have to turn around. Everybody in here is going to remember this stretch, and that’s what’s going to make it feel so much better when we get on a hot streak.”