Josh Reddick ripped the first pitch of Tuesday night’s game under Dee Gordon for a single. For the Marlins, it was the beginning of the end.
Two batters later, the Astros had their first run. Two innings later, the Astros had a four-run lead. And when the game ended, Houston held a 12-2 advantage to take game two of their three-game series against the Marlins. The Marlins have lost 16 of their last 20.
“It’s hard to come here feeling like everything’s gonna go your way,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said, “when nothing’s going your way.”
The Astros knocked Miami (14-24) starter Tom Koehler out of the game after three innings, making Tuesday his shortest outing of the season. He also allowed eight earned runs, which was also a season-worst.
As a result, Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans after the game. Koehler hasn’t pitched in the minor leagues since 2013.
“I truly believe that I belong in the big leagues,” Koehler said. “I’ve shown that. I’ve done this a long time now. So it’s just a matter of getting back to doing what I do well.”
His troubles started with Reddick’s single and continued with a series of singles by Astros hitters, each one chugging the offense along like a train through Miami’s defense.
By the end of the first inning, Houston had three runs.
The second inning, however, figured to be different. Koehler recorded two quick outs to start the frame. But then he walked three consecutive batters.
Astros catcher Brian McCann drove all of them in.
His bases-clearing double landed about a foot away from the glove of Giancarlo Stanton, who dove to try and make the catch.
The carnage against Koehler continued with two more runs in the third off a homer from former Marlin Jake Marisnick that rocketed into Miami’s home run sculpture. He notched a second two-run homer in the fifth inning that also banged off the sculpture. But his first one forced Mattingly to turn to his bullpen early.
“It becomes an exercise in not trying to blow up your ‘pen in one day,” Mattingly said, “and that didn’t go real good.”
Nick Wittgren was the first player out of the bullpen for the Marlins. He was a victim of the second Marisnick homer.
Jarlin Garcia was next, and he was also a victim of Marisnick, who doubled and scored Houston’s 11th run of the lopsided contest.
Dustin McGowan and David Phelps finished the game off for the Marlins, pitching a scoreless inning apiece.
Mattingly said that as a result of burning so many relief pitchers, another roster move might need to be made to bring in fresh arms.
“This game puts us in a pretty good bind,” he said, “so we’re working on what we wanna do.”
The only significant offensive contribution for the Marlins, meanwhile, came from catcher J.T. Realmuto, who smacked an RBI single in the first inning and picked up a team-best two hits against Houston starter Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel, who notched his MLB-best seventh win of the season on Tuesday, allowed four hits and two earned runs in his five innings.
“He just doesn’t give in,” Mattingly said of Houston’s ace.
Toward the end of the game, the Marlins took out their three starting outfielders — Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna — to give them some time to recover before tomorrow’s 12:10 series finale. They were also held hitless in four innings by Houston’s bullpen, and shortstop J.T. Riddle committed a ninth-inning error that allowed to Astros to score their 12th run.
“It was one of those games,” Mattingly said. “If it happens at a time when you’re playing good, you know it’s just one of those kind of games. But it ends up being one of those kind of games on a day that you’re really kind of tired of those kind of games.”
He added that after a game like this, the team needs to stay especially focused to have any possibility of contending. However, while he expressed confidence that his team will rebound, there was also some doubt.
“Right now, we’re not a factor,” he said. “But I believe we have a chance to be. Now, if we believe that or not, I don’t know.”