Poor Pablo Lopez.
The rookie pitcher for the Marlins should have chosen the name “Hard Luck” for the Players’ Weekend event in which players across the majors picked out the offbeat names and nicknames they wore on the backs of their jerseys.
In what has been a frustrating month for the right-hander, Lopez pitched well enough to win -- allowing one run over 5 2/3 innings -- but took the loss in the Marlins’ 4-0 defeat to the Braves on Sunday. Not only did Lopez pitch well, but produced one of their only two hits with a third-inning single.
For Lopez, it was typical of his August. Sunday’s outing was the fourth in five starts for Lopez this month in which he gave up two runs or fewer, the third in which he surrendered just one run. But the Marlins have lost all five of his starts this month by scoring a grand total of six runs in those five games.
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“It’s definitely been a learning experience, day in and day out,” Lopez said.
Manager Don Mattingly was most pleased with Lopez’s improving breaking ball.
“Today he threw some good breaking balls,” Mattingly said. “His breaking ball is going to have to get better. He understands what he’s going to need to be successful here. Without a real breaking ball, you start to see how hard it is to get through lineups. He understands that he’s going to need a better breaking ball to go to another level.”
Overall, though, Mattingly sees in Lopez a future rotation piece for the Marlins as they go through their rebuild.
“The quality of his outings has been good,” Mattingly said. “And If you can do that on a regular basis, then he’s a guy you can win with.”
The Marlins were shut out for the second time in their four-game series with the first-place Braves, who salvaged a split with Sunday’s win and concluded the season series between the two division rivals by going 14-5 against the Marlins.
The two teams had combined for 10 total runs through the first three games of the series and Sunday’s fourth game started out as a carbon copy of the others, with Lopez and Braves starter Kevin Gausman battling through five scoreless innings.
But the Braves got on the board in the sixth when Nick Markakis walked to lead off the inning and scored on Tyler Flower’s two-out single. It was just the second run for the Braves in 28 innings.
The Braves came up with three unearned runs in the eighth after first baseman Derek Dietrich fielded a bases-loaded grounder but bounced his throw to the plate past catcher Bryan Holaday, allowing two runs to score on the play.
“It’s not an easy play,” Mattingly said of Dietrich, who had to go to his right to get the ball and throw across his body toward the plate. “But if we make a play there, it’s a 1-0 game and still have a chance to win.”
The Marlins were one out away from being one-hit for the ninth time in franchise history when Dietrich came up with a two-out single in the ninth.
“We just weren’t able to get anything going offensively today,” Mattingly said.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Marlins, who will next travel to Boston to face the team with the best record in the majors, the Red Sox, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
SURGERY A “POSSIBILITY” FOR COOPER
Manager Don Mattingly said there is a “possibility” first baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper will undergo surgery on his injured right wrist but a final decision hasn’t been made. Cooper, who has spent most of the season on the disabled list, re-injured his wrist during a rehab game Friday with Single A Jupiter.
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