Miami Marlins

Steve Cishek’s blown save costly for Marlins in loss to Giants

Miami Marlins relief pitcher Steve Cishek reacts after walking the San Francisco Giants' Nori Aoki with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to tie their baseball game Sunday, May 10, 2015, in San Francisco. San Francisco won the game 3-2.
Miami Marlins relief pitcher Steve Cishek reacts after walking the San Francisco Giants' Nori Aoki with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to tie their baseball game Sunday, May 10, 2015, in San Francisco. San Francisco won the game 3-2. AP

Until Sunday, Steve Cishek had never given up an earned run to the San Francisco Giants.

The Marlins closer could not have picked a worse time for the spotless streak to end.

Cishek gave up two runs in the ninth as the Giants rallied for a 3-2 victory.

He walked in the tying run with the bases loaded before giving up a game-ending single to Matt Duffy as the Marlins were forced to settle for a split of the four-game series against the defending World Series champions.

For Cishek, it was his third blown save of the season.

“I don’t want to push the panic button now and reset everything,” Cishek said.

“I just want to keep plugging away and grinding. Things can only get better from here.”

Cishek and the Marlins can only hope.

The closer’s ERA is now 8.18.

One good pitch could have spared Cishek from second-guessing his decision-making after Sunday’s loss and enabled the Marlins to take the series at AT&T Park.

Instead, Cishek was left answering questions about an inning that blew up on him.

With the Marlins clinging to a 2-1 lead, Cishek began the ninth by striking out Justin Maxwell. So far so good. But after putting Andrew Susac in an 0-2 hole, he threw what he termed a “stupid pitch” — one that Susac stroked into right for a single.

Next up was Gregor Blanco, who lofted a deep fly ball to right. If not for a heady play by Ichiro Suzuki, the tying run would have scored right then and there.

Seeing that the ball was hit so deep and he couldn’t make a play on it, Suzuki stopped in his tracks and looked up, giving the appearance that he would make the catch.

His decoy suckered pinch-runner Joaquin Arias, who hesitated.

“I knew if I turned around right there, the run scores,” Suzuki said. “I knew it was going to be over my head, so my focus there was to make sure the runner thought that I could catch it.”

The ball hit the wall for a double, but Arias advanced only to third. Cishek and the Marlins were still alive.

Buster Posey was then walked intentionally to load the bases, and Cishek struck out Angel Pagan, leaving him with only one out to preserve the win.

But after working a 1-2 count on Nori Aoki, he threw three consecutive balls to force in the tying run.

“I tried to put him up and away in the zone with a heater,” Cishek said of his pitch strategy after the count evened at 2-2.

“After I missed down and away with a slider off the plate, I knew I could throw a better pitch than that, especially with a 3-2 [count] and the game on the line.”

But Cishek missed again for ball four.

“I stuck to my guns, went for it again, and didn’t make the adjustment I needed to make,” he said. “Lack of execution. I’m not executing pitches like I typically do.”

Two pitches later, Duffy ended it with a walk-off single.

The late-inning meltdown spoiled an otherwise strong performance by the rest of the Marlins pitching staff, starting with Mat Latos.

Latos worked seven strong innings, holding the Giants to one run. It was a strong indication that he might be turning the corner after struggling through a poor April.

“My Aprils are terrible for some reason,” he said. “April doesn’t like me.”

But there might have been an underlying reason for Latos’ slow start this time.

He disclosed for the first time that he had 90 ccs of fluid drained from his surgically repaired left knee during spring training.

“Nobody knew that,” Latos said.

“It’s really something that didn’t need to come out. We handled it. We took care of it. We’re strengthening it, and it’s night and day from what it was in spring training. I’m able to stick pitches.”

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