Jordan Yamamoto, stellar through his first half-dozen starts for the Miami Marlins since being called up in mid-June, hit his first major speed bump at the major-league level.
Spotty command against the Los Angeles Dodgers became his weakness on Sunday.
Long at-bat after long at-bat — and a pair of two-run home runs — eventually did Yamamoto in and gave the National League-leading Dodgers enough ammunition to cruise to a 9-0 series-sweeping win over the Marlins at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers (67-35) won the first two games of the set 2-1 on Friday and 10-6 on Saturday. The Marlins (36-61) have now been shut out 15 times this season.
“Teams like this, they have a good club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They force you to hit spots and make pitches. ... We weren’t able to do that.”
Yamamoto lasted just four innings in the first loss of his short MLB career. Los Angeles pushed his pitch count up to 91 pitches by the time he recorded his 12th and final out. Half of the 18 batters he faced battled for at least six pitches.
Known more for his ability to stymie hitters by mixing speeds and pounding the strike zone than his velocity, Yamamoto struggled to locate his fastball. Only 34 of his 54 fastballs went for strikes.
“If I don’t have my fastball,” Yamamoto said, “it’s going to be a rough day.”
He gave up the first two home runs of his career — two-run shots to Max Muncy in the first and Joc Pederson in the third — after only allowing three extra-base hits of any kind through the first 34 innings of his career. The Dodgers tacked on a fifth run on an Enrique Hernandez RBI double in the fourth.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Yamamoto, whose ERA jumped from 1.59 to 2.61 after Sunday’s outing. “It just kind of sucks that I couldn’t give the team the best chance to win. Going out there and letting home runs happen, it’s one of those things that I’m more pissed off at myself than anything right now.”
A.J. Pollock drove in four more runs for Los Angeles against the Marlins bullpen, hitting an RBI single to left against Wei-Yin Chen in the fifth and then blasting a three-run home run to right-center field off Tayron Guerrero in the seventh.
The Marlins offense, meanwhile, recorded just six hits and never had a runner advance farther than second base. Walker Buehler, the third All-Star starting pitcher the Marlins faced this series, shut down the Marlins just like Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw did during the first two games of the set.
Buehler struck out 11 Marlins batters and did not surrender a walk over seven innings.
“He’s a handful,” Mattingly said. “He’s on the attack. We never really strung anything together. It was a lot of swing and miss with him. When we got our hits, it was one here or there.”
For the three-game series, Dodgers starters gave up just 11 hits and one earned run — a Jorge Alfaro RBI double off Ryu on Friday for the first run of the series — while striking out 28 Marlins batters over 20 innings.
“It’s who you get,” Mattingly said. “We just have to see better.”
The Dodgers outscored the Marlins 21-7, with five of Miami’s runs coming in an eighth-inning rally attempt on Saturday night.
The goal now is to reset as they quickly turn around for a three-game road series against the Chicago White Sox to close out a six-game road trip.
The White Sox (44-52) are coming off a series win against the Tampa Bay Rays after dropping their first seven games after the All-Star Break.
The positive for the Marlins: The White Sox’s starting pitching, at least on paper, should be relatively easier to face compared to the gauntlet they faced in Los Angeles.
All three of Chicago’s scheduled starters — Ivan Nova, Dylan Covey and Reynaldo Lopez — have ERAs above 5.80.
“We just have to be ready,” Mattingly said. “You go. You start preparing. Obviously their starters, they’re not at the same level as we saw here.”