Never mind that the Marlins came out of the starting gate looking as sluggish as a plow horse, getting swept at home to an Atlanta Braves team that is in a rebuilding phase.
They didn’t so much as hold a lead in the series.
They never once homered.
And they didn’t cross the plate once in Wednesday’s finale, losing 2-0 to the Braves on an A.J. Pierzynski homer in the seventh to break a scoreless deadlock.
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“It’s disappointing,” said manager Mike Redmond. “We had a really good spring and to come in and get swept is definitely a big blow.”
The Marlins totaled exactly three runs in the three days, which probably wasn’t what the front office had in mind when it re-configured the lineup over the winter while signing Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to long-term deals.
There wasn’t much bang for the buck against the Braves.
For only the second time in franchise history, the Marlins kicked off a season by being swept at home in a three-game series.
The Phillies also did it to them in 2001.
Tom Koehler gave the Marlins what Mat Latos couldn’t the day before: a solid start. Koehler took a shutout into the seventh before it fell apart on a Freddie Freeman leadoff single and Pierzynski’s 2-run blast.
But the Marlins couldn’t get anything going with their bats, as Shelby Miller and company held them to six hits — including two infield hits and an Ichiro Suzuki bunt single — that produced nothing.
For the series, the Marlins managed only two extra-base hits. One belonged to starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, a double on Opening Day. The other, a pinch-hit triple, came off the bat of Donovan Solano in Tuesday’s loss.
Save for the Alvarez double, the bottom-third of the lineup has been empty, with neither Adeiny Hechavarria nor the catching combination of Jeff Mathis and Jarrod Saltamacchia mustering so much as one hit among them.
The top half hasn’t been a whole lot better.
“You go through spells like that,” Redmond said. “We came out of spring training and I thought we were swinging the bats really well. For whatever reason, we cooled off here.”
Then again, 159 games remain. Three games don’t make a season by any stretch. And the Marlins showed signs in other areas — namely on defense — that they’re not altogether lifeless.
All three outfielders — Stanton, Yelich and Marcell Ozuna — produced outstanding defensive plays on Wednesday, with Stanton coming up with a gem. With Nick Markakis aboard at first in the fourth, Freeman scorched a line drive to deep right-center.
Stanton left his feet to make a full-extension catch over his left shoulder, then got back up in time to throw back to first and double off Markakis, who had rounded second, certain the ball wouldn’t get caught.
“That was an amazing play,” Koehler said.
Lack of hits
Said Redmond: “I was sitting there on the bench thinking, ‘This is what we need right here, a big defensive play to get us fired up.’ We’re just not able to get that big hit right now.”
Yelich threw out Alberto Callaspo in the fifth while trying to stretch a single into a double, and Ozuna came up with a shoestring catch in the eighth.
Ichiro reached on a bunt in the seventh for his first hit as a Marlin, as his first as a National League player. But the Marlins couldn’t make one little offense that was generated Wednesday count for anything.
“We kind of had a little bit of a rough skid right out of the gate,” Yelich said. “But it’s only one series.”
Said Koehler: “You don’t want to judge your season on three games. We’ve got a long ways to go. Not the start you would have hoped for. Luckily, we play 162.”