Miami Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi worked a perfect first inning to open the second half, but things quickly unraveled much like the season seems to be doing of late.
Eovaldi exited in the fourth after surrendering a season-high eight runs on nine hits in the Marlins’ 9-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants Friday night at Marlins Park.
On the 11th pitch of a two-out at-bat to Brandon Crawford, Eovaldi watched as his 96 mph fastball went over the wall in right for a two-run shot. San Francisco tacked on another two in the third and five in the fourth to extend its lead to 9-0.
"First inning was good, then after that Crawford at-bat left one middle-in and home run,” said Eovaldi, whose club has dropped eight of his last nine starts. "After that it was just tough. Made some really good pitches and they got hit then made some bad pitches and they got hit. Just tough game.”
The Marlins (44-51) dropped their fifth straight. They began the second half 7 1/2 back of the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Their opponent, the Giants (53-43), had a 10-22 record since June 8 — second worst in baseball. Their 9 1/2-game lead in the NL West had disappeared.
That didn’t matter on Friday.
Miami entered the series with the NL’s third-worst rotation ERA (4.12). Once considered a strength, it has been inconsistent since losing ace Jose Fernandez. The Marlins have now allowed nine runs or more in consecutive games for the second time this year.
"That’s the good thing with starting pitching — it only takes one guy to go out there and throw a great game and the other guys are going to follow him,” Eovaldi said. "Just trying to wait for that one guy to step up, it’ll probably be (Henderson Alvarez) tomorrow.”
The offense, meanwhile, mustered just two hits through the first five innings against All-Star lefty Madison Bumgarner.
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton regained the NL home run lead with a solo blast in the sixth to make it 9-1, snapping a 59 at-bat (79 plate appearance) homerless drought dating back to June 26. But that was it as the Marlins left seven on base.
Over the past seven games (six losses), Miami has been outscored 44-13. During this seven-game stretch, the Marlins have been held to one run four times. It can be tough for bats to get going when they face an early deficit, which has happened five times.
"Too many games and we put a lot of pressure on our offense and those guys have been really good,” manager Mike Redmond said. "We’re going to go through some struggles where we don’t score runs, but when you’re down 4-0 in the third inning that’s tough for your offense. That’s a pretty daunting number especially going against a guy like Bumgarner who is so good.”
Like the ace he has become since Fernandez went down, the Marlins are counting on Alvarez, who made his first All-Star team earlier this week, to right things.
Prior to a rare rough outing against the New York Mets last weekend, he had given up two earned runs or less in nine straight starts. Miami had won a club record 10 of his starts in a row.
"It wasn’t what we had drawn up coming back from the break, but at the same time it’s only one game,” said third baseman Casey McGehee, who went 2 for 4. "We really need to pick it up here pretty quick to get things going in the right direction. Hopefully we can go on a bit of a run here and get the good feeling going again.
"Hopefully Alvarez can come out (Saturday) and pitch the way he’s pitched pretty much all year and start the momentum.”