It seemed fitting that on a night when the Phillies paid tribute to Roy Halladay in a pre-game ceremony, Zach Eflin was prompting flashbacks of the late pitching ace with some fine work of his own. It was Halladay who threw a perfect game against the Marlins in 2010, and Elfin was doing his best Saturday to deliver a repeat performance.
The Philadelphia right-hander retired the first 12 batters he faced.
Alas, Justin Bour’s home run to open the fifth brought a sudden end to any thought of another perfect game thrown by a Phillies pitcher against the Marlins. But Bour’s blast into the center field landscaping at Citizens Bank Park proved to be nothing more than a pinprick on an otherwise brilliant pitching performance by Elfin and a fifth straight setback for the Marlins.
With Saturday’s 8-3 loss, the Marlins must win Sunday to avoid going win-less on their six-game road trip and simultaneously match their longest losing streak of the season.
“It’s the time of the year (when it’s) kind of a tale of two cities, when you look at us and look at them,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “You’ve got guys who know they’re in a pennant race. Other guys, our side, really knows they’re not. And we’ve got to find out who will grind and who will continue the battle. On their side, you usually see their best baseball when you get in this kind of race.”
The Marlins were not a pretty sight Saturday.
Jose Urena (3-11) was responsible for three of the four home runs that left Phillies bats, the Marlins managed only two hits while also failing to draw a walk, and All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto dropped a routine foul pop after he lost sight of the ball.
The Marlins are playing poor baseball right now, and Saturday’s display was indicative.
Urena gave up a three-run homer in the first to Nick Williams, a two-run shot in the third to Asdrubal Cabrera, and a solo homer to begin the fifth to Carlos Santana. Jarlin Garcia took over in the sixth and gave up a two-run blast to Cesar Hernandez as the first-place Phillies out-classed the Marlins.
“Today we didn’t stop the long ball,” Mattingly said. “It kind of deflated us pretty good.”
Phillies pitchers have shut down Marlins hitters in the series, allowing just four runs total in the three games. One night after Vince Velasquez retired the first 13 batters he faced, Elfin took care of the first dozen before Bour’s home run, his 18th. Miguel Rojas hit his first home run since May 20 -- and eighth on the season -- but his two-run shot off Eflin in the eighth was too little too late.
Offensively, it seems like we’ve been stagnant,” Mattingly said.
Rojas said the Marlins, even though they re-claimed sole possession of last place in the National League East, should be playing with motivation.
“I don’t really think they’re playing for something bigger than us,” Rojas said of the Phillies. “We’re playing for the club and we’re playing for our pride. What is better than that? Even if we’re not really in the race for the playoffs, we’re playing for our pride, which has to be your motivation everyday. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the race or not in the race.”