It was 4:30 a.m. by the time the Marlins made it to their hotel in Cincinnati on Friday after their flight was delayed leaving New York and buses were late in picking them up once they landed.
Not surprisingly, they looked lethargic in a 5-0 loss to the Reds.
“You don’t want to blame travel,” manager Dan Jennings said. “But it seems like when we have these rough travel times, we’re a little bit slow offensively. We were sluggish.”
Their bats weren’t just quiet. They were lifeless.
Reds pitcher Mike Leake flirted with a no-hitter before Christian Yelich broke it up with a two-out single in the sixth, and the Marlins ended the night with only four hits total.
It was the third consecutive game in which the Marlins failed to record a hit in the first three innings, and for the second time in that brief span they waited until the sixth before doing so.
“We’ve had two of these two of these tough travel nights, and it seems like the next day we’re a little sluggish and slow to start,” said Jennings, who also was referring to an early-morning arrival into New York on Wednesday.
In that game, the Yankees’ Michael Pineda took a no-hitter into the seventh.
Leake didn’t allow so much as a base runner — retiring 13 in a row to start the game — before issuing consecutive, one-out walks to Marcell Ozuna and Justin Bour.
“Mike Leake was on [Friday night],” Marlins starter Dan Haren said. “He had it going, for sure.”
As much as he tried, there wasn’t much Haren could do to counter the lack of offensive support. Haren turned in a strong outing by holding the Reds to four hits over 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs in the process.
Haren has been the most reliable performer among the Marlins’ starters all season, and his only mistake Friday came in the fourth when he gave up a solo homer to Marlon Byrd that just cleared the wall in center.
“The homer is probably an out in Marlins Park,” Haren said. “I love Marlins Park. But Byrd in the past has hit a lot of homers off me. I fell behind in the count to him and he put a good swing on it, for sure.”
Said Jennings of Haren’s performance: “Give up one run in this ballpark, it was a Great American Ball Park home run he gave up, and he really threw the ball outstanding. We couldn’t supply any offense.”
The other run charged to Haren came when Steve Cishek took over for him in the seventh and promptly gave up a RBI single to pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker. The Marlins could have opted for Brad Hand, rather than Cishek, to face the left-handed-hitting Schumaker.
But Jennings decided to go with the right-hander Cishek.
“We talked about it,” Jennings said. “Cishek had decent numbers against Schumaker. That’s the reason we went with the matchup. Could have very easily left Dan in there to face Schumaker, as well. It was just a decision I made at that time, and it turned out to be a wrong decision. Schumaker gets the knock, second run scores.”
Schumaker had gone 1 for 5 in his career against Cishek; 4 for 17 against Haren. He had never batted against Hand.
The rest of the bullpen fared no better, as the Reds cushioned their lead in the eighth with three runs off Hand and Vin Mazzaro.
But it was the lineup that lacked punch.
One of the Marlins’ four hits belonged to Dee Gordon, who singled in the eighth for his 100th hit of the season. Gordon is only the sixth player since 1961 to reach 100 hits in 65 games or fewer.
The others: Ralph Garr in 1974, Matty Alou in 1969, Andres Galarraga in 1993, Tony Gwynn in 1997, and Larry Walker in 1997.
But there were no other offensive highlights.