JUPITER, Fla. — Every pitcher goes through at least one forgettable outing. For Miami Marlins right-hander Mat Latos, it came Monday in a 12-3 loss to the New York Mets at Roger Dean Stadium.
Latos surrendered nine runs on eight hits in three innings. He walked two batters and struck out one, throwing 66 pitches, just 35 for strikes. The silver lining on this spring afternoon? Opening Day isn’t for another two weeks.
"You take your licking and learn from it," Latos said. "That’s just the way it goes. It’s a good thing it happened in spring training. The season you tend to get a little sharper as it progresses.
"I was destined to have an outing. I just didn’t know it was going to be one like that. That was borderline embarrassing. We’ll see if we can figure it out."
In his first two Grapefruit League starts, Latos looked solid with a clean bill of health to the tune of a 1-0 record and 2.57 ERA. He had given up two runs on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks over seven frames.
On Monday, Latos worked a perfect first inning but ran into trouble in an eight-run second, when the first eight batters reached base. He fell behind the batter eight of 11 times. Michael Cuddyer led off with a single and capped the scoring with a two-out solo homer to right-center.
"He got through that first inning and it just looked like he was having some command troubles, especially with his secondary pitches," manager Mike Redmond said. "That as a long inning. I guess the good thing is he got his pitches in."
The 27-year-old righty said he struggled with his mechanics, particularly in finding his release point. New York added a run in the third on Anthony Recker’s RBI double to drive in Eric Campbell, who worked a leadoff walk.
"The ball was coming out of my hand good, my release point’s off," Latos said. "Normally I’m able to fix something when I’m on the mound. It only took me to the end of that third inning to kind of figure it out. I shortened my stride up just a little bit. I was landing too hard on my heel and spinning off and I shortened my stride up and I was able to get over the top of the ball. I threw a curveball and got a strike out on my little split change.
"I was able to throw a really good curveball to (Juan) Lagares. I was able to command the fastball, downhill plane. That was key. Earlier in the game I felt like I was down in the dirt, when I was around the strike zone they were ready to swing. A good hitting ballclub like that, that’s what happens, they’re going to put nine runs on the board in a couple of innings."