Don Mattingly has not revealed his pitching lineup after the Marlins return from the All-Star break.
But if Wei-Yin Chen takes the mound at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to face the Rays, Mattingly’s head should be examined.
Despite receiving the loss in the Marlins’ 2-0 setback to the Phillies on Friday, Chen turned in another strong performance at Marlins Park, whiffing a season-high eight batters while lasting six innings.
His lowered his home ERA in seven starts to 1.83.
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It’s the road where Chen does a belly flop. His ERA in his eight starts away from South Florida: 10.47.
“Wish I had an answer,” Mattingly said of the disparity. “There really shouldn’t be a difference. I mean, it’s still 60-feet-6-inches.”
Chen was back in his element on Friday, allowing a single run on Aaron Altherr’s two-out double in the second. His major problem was having to go against Phillies starter and former Orioles teammate Jake Arrieta, who was even more outstanding.
The Marlins managed just three hits in seven innings off the veteran right-hander, who recorded 12 ground-ball outs. The Marlins had only one real scoring chance, in the sixth when Derek Dietrich doubled off the wall in right and Cameron Maybin tried to score from first with what would have been the tying run.
But Maybin did not appear to get a good read on the ball and a strong relay throw by Phillies shortstop Scott Kingery caught him at the plate as Maybin tried to go in standing up.
“From our angle, you think it’s either out (for a home run) or it’s a hit,” Mattingly said of the dugout view on Dietrich’s drive. “So it’s full go. Not sure what read he got. I think he’s got to slide. And I think on the backside of that, but Starlin’s (Castro) got to be up there telling him to slide. So kind of a combination there of things.”
Maikel Franco’s two-out homer in the ninth off Brad Ziegler provided the game’s only other scoring.
Not even the return of All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the lineup could wake the Marlins’ hitters from their Friday slumber. Realmuto, who missesd the three-game series against the Brewers earlier in the week to attend the birth of his first child, went 0 for 4 in his return.
The Marlins have only two games remaining with the Phillies before heading out on the four-day break. They’ll open back up in St. Petersburg for three games before returning home to play the Braves.
Expect Chen to return then.
Chen said he can’t explain why his home and road splits are so lopsided.
“I really can’t explain it,” Chen said. “Here I feel like I can control more stuff. On the road, maybe I’m trying too hard.”
Chen took some satisfaction out of Friday, and specifically with his head-to-head showdown against Arrieta.
“We both got to step into the box to face each other,” Chen said with a smile. “Back in the days when we were in Baltimore, he kept bragging on how good his hitting was. So I was happy to strike him out twice and not get struck out by him. So maybe I didn’t pitch better than him, but at least I kind of did better than him on hitting.”