In unveiling a new lineup, new manager Dan Jennings talked about discovering a formula that would work, one that would be a home run on par with Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“I’m sure the Colonel tried a lot of recipes before he came up with the secret one for the chicken,” Jennings said before the Marlins took the field Wednesday night to face Arizona. “So we’re going to hopefully keep working it until we find ours.”
Perhaps it needs more spice. Or additional time in the oven.
But Wednesday’s lineup proved to be a flavorless flop, as the slumping Marlins produced only four hits in a 6-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
The defeat ran their losing streak to six in a row and dropped them to nine games below .500 with a record of 16-25. It certainly hasn’t been the quick fix the Marlins were hoping for when they installed Jennings as the team’s new manager after handing Mike Redmond his pink slip.
They have gone 0-3 under Jennings, and Wednesday’s loss was about as dreadful as they come.
Not only did the Marlins remain lifeless at the plate, but the pitching was poor and they allowed the aggressive Diamondbacks to control the base paths by allowing six stolen bases — including a steal of home — to equal a franchise record for most allowed in a game.
That figure could grow to seven stolen bases, pending a ruling by the official scorer.
“Needless to say, you’ve to improve your focus and control the running game better at this level, and it’ll be addressed,” Jennings said. “It’s frustrating because that team’s taking advantage of things that they see and have advance scouted as weaknesses.”
The Marlins, who came within one out of being no-hit on Sunday in a setback to Atlanta, were held to only four hits — with two coming in a ninth inning in which the outcome was no longer in doubt.
They’ve gone 0-6 on a homestand in which they have totaled only 10 runs. Over their past four games, the Marlins are hitting a paltry .140.
“We know for sure we’re way better than this,” said third baseman Martin Prado, who had one of the Marlins’ four hits. “We’re not going to be like this [all season].”
But Dee Gordon said expectations don’t always equal success, no matter what the lineup looks like.
“You can be good on paper,” Gordon said. “I’ve played on teams where we were good on paper and were supposed to win the World Series every year. But we didn’t. So paper means nothing.”
Gordon went 0 for 3, causing his average to slip below .400 for the first time since April 27. But he was far from the only culprit in Wednesday’s loss.
David Phelps, who has pitched well as both a starter and reliever, struggled mightily, allowing five hits, three walks and three stolen bases (it could increase to four depending on the scorer’s ruling).
“Bad job managing the game on my part,” Phelps said. “I wasn’t holding runners well. Leadoff walks. You look at how they scored their runs. They had two leadoff walks [in the first and fifth innings] that came around to score. Guys stealing bases. Poor job on my part just limiting the damage, more than anything.”
Phelps acknowledged the growing frustration level.
“No one in this clubhouse signed up to lose,” he said. “So you’re not going to see any smiles on faces when we’re losing.”
Jennings said the Marlins have simply hit a rough stretch but fully expects matters to improve.
“This is going to turn,” Jennings said. “We’re in a storm right now. It’s frustrating. But these guys are working diligently. It’s going to turn. But until it turns, it’s a little frustrating for us all. It’s just a matter of hitting the ball where they’re not.”
▪ Wednesday’s game was the first all season in which Ichiro Suzuki did not play. That leaves shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria as the only Marlin to play in all 41 games.