In first MLB start, Marlins' Kendry Flores learns tough lesson about location
MIAMI -- It's tough for a pitcher to live up in the zone.
Miami Marlins right-hander Kendry Flores learned that the hard way in a 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
In his first major-league start, Flores surrendered five runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk over five innings. Of his 85 pitches, 55 went for strikes.
The 23-year-old rookie retired the first seven batters in order and needed just 39 pitches to get through three innings. Three of those outs, however, traveled deep into the outfield. They foreshadowed what was to come.
Things unraveled in a four-run fourth when the Phillies sent all nine batters to the plate.
Andres Blanco led off with a double and scored on Odubel Herrera's single. Ryan Howard doubled to put a pair of runners into scoring position. After a lineout to first, Domonic Brown walked to load the bases. Freddy Galvis' sacrifice fly to left made it 2-0. Cole Gillespie's throw home hit Galvis, permitting Brown to advance to second.
After intentionally walking Cameron Rupp to load the bases, pitcher Jerad Eickhoff -- making his major-league debut -- drove in a pair with his first professional basehit. Philadelphia added another run in the fifth on Howard's RBI double.
"He was up all night really a lot of flyball outs early," manager Dan Jennings said. "Eventually they found holes and he just couldn't get the ball down to the bottom of the strike zone. (He) elevated the ball. Not typical of what we've seen from him. He's usually been a guy who works downhill, but tonight he couldn't get down there."
Added Flores through a translator: "I just went out there and tried my best like every day. I go out there expecting to do well but the pitches -- they weren't finishing in the location I wanted to. I was trying to go, but stuff like that happens."
Flores posted a 1-1 record and a 2.35 ERA in six relief appearances over two stints with the ballclub. Over 7 2/3 innings, he gave up two earned runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
According to Fangraphs, Flores had a 50 percent ground ball, 30.8 percent flyball and 19.2 line drive rate. Blanco's at-bat in the fifth was Flores' lone groundout in the outing. He tallied five flyouts and four lineouts to go along with the five strikeouts.
Acquired from the San Francisco Giants over the offseason along with minor-league infielder Luis Castillo for Casey McGehee, he compiled a 6-5 record and 2.34 ERA in 19 starts between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
With righty David Phelps out for the remainder of season, Flores has joined lefties Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino as rookies in the rotation. As they showcase for 2016 and beyond, they must also battle through growing pains.
"I got my nerves out from my previous outings up here," Flores said. "It was just going out there and making a start and helping the team."