New manager Dan Jennings is quickly discovering what his deposed predecessor, Mike Redmond, already knew. You can’t win if you don’t score, and the Marlins aren’t putting runs on the board.
Especially in their home ballpark.
He also experienced his first major managerial decision gone bad.
Day 2 of the Jennings’ regime was a near carbon copy of the first in the Marlins’ 4-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, minus the extra-inning drama of the previous night.
The Diamondbacks jumped out to another 2-0 lead. The Marlins tied it with another two-run homer.
The Diamondbacks prevailed again, this time behind A.J. Pollock’s pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth off Mike Dunn.
Rather than go to his bullpen and bring in Bryan Morris to face the right-handed hitting Pollock, Jennings stuck with his lefty, and it ended up costing the Marlins.
Pollock lined Dunn’s first pitch — a 95 mph fastball — just over the wall in the left-field corner.
“Thought about it,” Jennings said of bringing in Morris. “I went with a gut feeling, and the gut feeling did not work. That was on me. It’s not on Dunner. The managers I’ve talked to said, ‘You know what? If you have a gut feeling, you trust it.’ And I had a gut feeling there and it didn’t turn out right.”
Home has hardly been sweet for the Marlins, who have struggled for runs in their own confines. They are 0-5 on the current home stand, during which they’ve mustered only 10 runs.
Going into Tuesday, they ranked 26th of the 30 major-league teams in home scoring. It takes hits to produce runs, and the Marlins have totaled just 13 over the past three games.
At the same time, they’ve fallen into last place in the National League East, behind even the lowly Philadelphia Phillies.
“This is never fun to keep getting beat late, and getting beat in general,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who accounted for all of the Marlins’ scoring with his two-run homer.
After a one-stop assignment to the bullpen, Tom Koehler returned to the mound as a starter and turned in one of his best outings of the season, holding the Diamondbacks to a pair of runs — both unearned — over 6 2/3 innings.
The Diamondbacks scored their first run on a Dee Gordon throwing error and the second on a safety squeeze bunt with two outs.
“Tom Koehler pitched a tremendous ballgame,” Jennings said.
And just like on Monday, when J.T. Realmuto’s first major leaguer homer wiped out a 2-0 deficit, Stanton did the same when his two-run shot to left erased Arizona’s 2-0 advantage.
The home run was Stanton’s 12th, the quickest he’s reached that total. His previous best: 11 home runs in his first 40 games of last season.
But once again, the Marlins couldn’t add on.
With Dunn on the mound in relief, Mark Trumbo singled to lead off the eighth. After Paul Goldschmidt struck out, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale brought in Pollock —a right-handed hitter — to pinch-hit for David Peralta.
Morris was in the bullpen, warmed and ready to go.
But Jennings stuck with Dunn, and the consequences were immediate.
Pollock lined Dunn’s first pitch for a two-run homer.
“Just didn’t execute the pitch,” Dunn said. “I challenge guys inside, and just didn’t quite get it in enough, I guess.”
Dunn said he felt comfortable in the situation facing the right-hander.
“I’ve been here for awhile,” Dunn said. “I’ve faced righties and lefties. I’ve had pretty good success against both. I just went with what worked in the past and challenged him, and he beat me [Tuesday]. Obviously, if I’d known he was going to hit the home run, I wouldn’t have thrown that pitch.”