Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen did nothing but throw strikes in Thursday’s ninth inning. Marlins pitchers did just the opposite, handing out freebies by walking nine batters and hitting another in their 7-2 loss to the Dodgers.
It’s been a problem all season for the Marlins, and it’s wearing on manager Don Mattingly.
“This hasn’t all of a sudden happened,” Mattingly said of the high walk rate by Marlins pitchers. “We’re leading the league in walks by a mile.”
At the current rate, the Marlins’ pitching staff will finish with the highest walk total of any major-league team this century. Throw in the fact they have hit at least one batter in 12 of their past 13 games and the result becomes obvious.
“Nine walks, a hit batter, and then you add  hits in there, too,” Mattingly said of Thursday’s dismal pitching performance. “If you start to get 13, 14, 15 base runners, [the opponent is] going to score. When you start getting higher than that, the numbers are off the charts.”
At the current rate, the Marlins’ pitching staff will finish with the highest walk total of any major-league team this century.
Mattingly said Marlins pitchers have been lectured repeatedly about attacking the strike zone, but to no avail.
He isn’t sure whether the pitchers don’t trust their pitches or simply can’t throw strikes on a consistent basis. But he has detected a trend.
“At times, I think we’re expecting guys to swing out of the strike zone,” he said.
“And when you get better teams that are studying you, they know who’s not throwing strikes. So we’re going to have to reverse the trend, make guys swing in the strike zone. At some point, I’d rather see a guy get a hit than continue to walk guys.”
Mattingly would clearly covet someone like Jansen, who isn’t afraid to pepper the strike zone. On Thursday, Jansen recorded the 79th “immaculate” inning in big-league history, striking out the side in the Marlins’ ninth on exactly nine pitches.
Jansen has yet to walk a batter this season and has struck out 32 in his 16 innings of work.
Ichiro Suzuki, who was Jansen’s final strikeout victim, said he had never seen anything like it.
“I’ve seen pitchers throw three pitches to get three guys out,” Ichiro said through his translator.
Derek Dietrich, who was Jansen’s first strikeout victim in the inning, said the reliever has a way of throwing off the rhythm of hitters when they’re getting set in the batter’s box.
“He does something different with his timing that I wasn’t familiar with,” Dietrich said.
“He comes set, holds it with a little extra pause — extra deception. You’re in the box and you’re trying to get your timing. I almost got down, set and almost had to reset. That’s why I kind of froze up and didn’t pull the trigger on one pitch.”
Of his 13 total pitches (Jansen faced one batter in the eighth, J.T. Realmuto, whom he whiffed) 12 of them were strikes.
Marlins pitchers should take notice.
▪ Justin Bour is swinging the hottest bat on the Marlins, and one of the reasons is his sudden success against southpaws.
When Bour connected on a solo shot off Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu on Thursday, it marked his second home run in a week off a left-hander. Bour entered the season with no homers in 123 career at-bats off lefties.
Overall, Bour is hitting .375 with six homers since April 30.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (1-3, 3.56 ERA) at Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Julio Urias (0-1, 3.43), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.
▪ Sunday: Marlins (to be announced) at Dodgers RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-1, 4.15), 4:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.