Marlins notes: Eighth inning providing some trouble for Miami's bullpen
MAY 23, 2014 6:01p ET
MIAMI -- A walk-off victory helps erase bad plays from the short-term memory, but the truth is a troubling trend remains for the Miami Marlins.
Eighth-inning woes continue to be a problem, and Thursday's 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies proved to be no exception.
Up 3-0, reliever A.J. Ramos walked Jimmy Rollins to lead off the frame after getting ahead 0-2 in the count. Wil Nieves popped out to second before manager Mike Redmond elected to go with left-hander Mike Dunn to face a pair of lefties.
Chase Utley sent the first pitch for a double off the right-field wall. With runners at second and third, Ryan Howard produced a sacrifice fly to left. Marlon Byrd followed with a two-run homer to center on a pitch down the middle of the plate.
Dunn had made nine consecutive scoreless appearances. It wasted a solid start by Henderson Alvarez, who pitched seven shutout innings.
"It was just one of those days where it just didn't happen for (Dunn) and A.J.," Redmond said. "The leadoff walk again. They come back to haunt us every single time, and we have to pound the strike zone, especially if we have the lead."
Through 48 games, the Marlins rank second-to-worst in the majors with a 5.63 ERA and 32 runs allowed in the eighth inning. Only the Toronto Blue Jays have fared worse.
After going five straight games without giving up a run in the frame, the bullpen has allowed at least two in consecutive days.
"I can't answer it," Dunn said. "It's just going out there and that's when we pitch and if we have struggles it's a big situation in the eighth inning. Everything gets magnified in the seventh or eighth inning, especially. It's what we're used to and we have to go out there and get the job done."
Left-hander Randy Wolf will be back in his comfort zone Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers, when he makes his first start as a Marlin, and against one of his former clubs.
A 15-year veteran, Wolf missed the 2013 season following his second Tommy John surgery. He pitched out of the bullpen in two outings since the club signed him May 14, coming on in relief of rookie starter Anthony DeSclafani.
Wolf earned his first career save in a three-inning stint that Wednesday in Los Angeles, while tossing two scoreless frames Tuesday at Marlins Park.
Because of those brief appearances, his pitch count may be lower than usual. He has not had that discussion with Redmond or pitching coach Chuck Hernandez yet. Wolf did throw more than 100 pitches and six innings with Triple-A Reno before opting out of his contract.
The 37-year-old is 129-117 with a 4.19 ERA in 368 career starts.
"It's what I've done most. I think I have a good idea how to do it," Wolf said of starting. "As a starting pitcher, my strength is throwing my four pitches for strikes any time. As a bullpen guy when you go in a game you can have two pitches you throw for strikes, if you have three great, four amazing. You don't have time to really like find your changeup or slider. Got to find something that's there and go with it."
Jeff Baker is day-to-day with a bruised right shoulder he injured during the seventh inning Thursday.
Alvarez's throw on a comebacker sailed, and Baker collided with Domonic Brown as he raced to first. The bang-bang play was called for the second out of the inning.
Garrett Jones came in as a defensive replacement. Baker told Redmond that he couldn't get his arm over his head.
Baker said he wouldn't throw on Friday but would try to take a few swings. He is available to pinch hit. The utility player did not have an MRI taken.
"It's not going to be an issue," Baker said.
Top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney allowed one run on seven hits in five innings in his debut for Triple-A New Orleans. He struck out seven and walked none.