Believing the bullpen to be solid, the Marlins’ front office left it largely untouched over the winter.
Now it is haunting them.
The bullpen caved in a five-run seventh inning at PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon, allowing a 2-0 lead to turn into a 5-2 loss.
It was the ninth blown save for the Marlins, tied for the most in the majors.
“There have been times where everybody in the pen’s been really sharp,” said Bryan Morris, who pitched a scoreless sixth inning Wednesday before three other relievers coughed up five runs in the seventh. “And there have been times when we haven’t looked that good.”
Morris said the only consistent reliever has been A.J. Ramos, who moved into the closer’s role when incumbent Steve Cishek struggled early.
But there have been few times when the Marlins have been able to get the ball — and the lead — to Ramos in the ninth during their long slump.
“There have been nights where we just completely not done our job,” Morris said. “Unfortunately, we’re on a skid, and we need to figure out how to turn it around.”
Andre Rienzo became the first Brazilian-born player to suit up for the Marlins when he appeared in relief on Tuesday night, retiring all four batters he faced.
Then again, Rienzo is only the third player from Brazil ever to play in the majors, along with Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes and Kansas City outfielder Paulo Orlando.
Rienzo was discovered in the soccer-rich country when he was 17 and originally signed with the White Sox. The Marlins acquired him in a trade with Chicago in December for reliever Dan Jennings.
“If I go on the street people don’t know me,” Rienzo said of his relative obscurity in Brazil compared to the country’s soccer stars. “I’m not a soccer player. If I’m a soccer player, I couldn’t walk down the street.”
▪ Lenny Harris doesn’t have a lot of experience as a third-base coach.
But his 18 years in the majors, a large part of it sitting in the dugout as a backup infielder and prolific pinch-hitter, allowed him plenty of time to study the game.
“I just feel like being in the big leagues for so long and watching all those great third-base coaches, I better have learned something from someone,” Harris said.
Harris was named the Marlins’ new third-base coach on Tuesday after Brett Butler was removed from that role.
Harris, a product of Miami’s Jackson High and a member of the Marlins’ 2003 World Series team, has only coached at third once before — last season in the Gulf Coast League.
“The most important thing is getting the sign from the manager,” Harris said. “You want to make sure you’re on the same page. But you’re just directing traffic.”
▪ Thursday: No game.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (4-2, 3.09 ERA) at New York Mets RHP Matt Harvey (5-2, 2.91), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-3, 3.44) at Mets LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.08), 4:10 p.m., Citi Field.