After closing 2013 in special way, Henderson Alvarez labors through season debut
MIAMI — Less than seven months ago, Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez baffled the Detroit Tigers for a no-hitter on Closing Day.
Miami ended a forgettable season in walk-off fashion via a wild pitch, the first of its kind in MLB history.
In his return to the mound for his 2014 debut, Alvarez didn’t so much dazzle as he did labor in a 6-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night at Marlins Park.
Alvarez gave up six runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout over three-plus innings.
It took leadoff batter Charlie Blackmon just five pitches into the game to break up the no-no.
The 23-year-old (0-1, 9.00 ERA) surrendered three runs on six hits — all singles — in the first inning alone, including a stretch of five in a row. Four came with two strikes.
"I went out there to do my work," Alvarez said. "What got me in trouble was leaving the ball up there. That’s when the batters took advantage, and they got their hits off me. There were a couple of times when I had the count 1-2 that I tried to throw the ball in the dirt. I left it up, and the hitters took advantage."
Marlins pitchers allowed just six hits in Monday’s win — the same amount starter Nathan Eovaldi scattered over six innings Tuesday.
Alvarez appeared to settle down over the next two frames, needing 18 pitches to retire six batters.
But things turned in a three-run fourth.
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria committed a throwing error on a routine play and Jordan Pacheco followed with a single to left. Derek Dietrich slipped on a potential double-play turn and his throw to second took Hechavarria off the bag.
Manager Mike Redmond challenged the call, but it was upheld.
"We made a couple of mistakes, gave them some extra outs," Redmond said. "We talked about that as a ballclub in spring training. We’re not able to give teams more than 27 outs. We’ve got to execute better defensively. We gave some extra outs, and it ended up probably being the difference in the game."
After a three-minute delay that included whether the Marlins wanted a review or not, Alvarez threw a wild pitch on his first offering with the bases loaded.
Nolan Arenado spiked him on his slide into home, and the righty needed some time to walk it off and throw warm-up pitches. He would walk pitcher Jordan Lyles before Redmond pulled him.
"I was fine," Alvarez said. "The spikes gave me not so much a cut, but more of a scrape."
The shortest outing of his career (1 2/3 innings on Aug. 28, 2013 due to rain) ended after 56 pitches — 38 strikes — with the most runs given up since making his Marlins debut last July. He allowed eight runs on 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings Aug. 19, 2012, as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Over four spring outings totaling 14 2/3 innings, teams collected just four runs — three earned — off him.
"They hit some pretty hard early on him, and it just seemed like he never really got in a rhythm," Redmond said. "I don’t know if he was overthrowing. They saw him pretty well."