Francisco Cervelli bowed ceremoniously toward the Marlins dugout, a gesture intended specifically for Ichiro Suzuki — his teammate on the Yankees last season — before the first pitch was thrown Monday.
Cervelli wasn’t as magnanimous with his greeting to David Phelps.
In his very first at-bat against Phelps, another of his former Yankees teammates, Cervelli tagged a three-run homer, which held up in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 win at PNC Park.
“He had a stretch last year, I think he caught seven or eight starts of mine,” Phelps said. “I played with Cervelli for three years now, see him in the batter’s box thinking along with me.”
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Phelps would later give up another homer, highlighting a major area of concern for the Marlins. With three of their starters on the disabled list, Miami is trying to make do with a trio of fill-ins, none of which were in the rotation to start the season, and Phelps was the first of the three to take a stab at filling the void.
The second, Jose Urena, will be recalled from Triple A to make Tuesday’s start for the Marlins. The team hasn’t yet settled on a starter for Wednesday.
“I don’t think it puts any added pressure on us,” Phelps said. “You never want to see one of your teammates on the DL. But it doesn’t change if somebody goes on the DL. We don’t need to put more pressure on ourselves to go out and get people out.”
It’s a treacherous time for the Marlins, who are teetering at the bottom of the National League East standings. Monday’s loss quickly doused the little spark they brought to Pittsburgh in the form of a two-game winning streak.
Although Phelps was markedly better than he was his last time out, when the Diamondbacks ran the bases unchecked, he wasn’t good enough to open the trip on a winning note.
After Giancarlo Stanton had staked the Marlins a 1-0 lead with his RBI single in the first, Phelps ran into trouble in the second, giving up a pair of one-out singles before Cervelli took him deep to right. The home run was the first of the season for the Pirates catcher.
Stanton carved into Pittsburgh’s lead with his 13th homer, a solo shot in the third off Charlie Morton. And he made a leaping catch against the wall in right field off Josh Harrison.
Stanton’s homer was it offensively for the Marlins.
Phelps gave up a solo homer with two outs in the sixth to Pedro Alvarez, which proved to be more than enough cushion for the Pirates bullpen to protect.
“It’s tough to keep them off the board when they hit ’em out of the park,” Phelps said.