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Chen's struggles continue as Marlins fall in 14

Urena's strong start spoiled in extra-inning marathon
@JoeFrisaro
April 14, 2019

MIAMI -- After starter Jose Urena and six relievers covered 13 innings, the Marlins went with their most precarious pitching option in the 14th inning. Long-time starter and now long-reliever Wei-Yin Chen was called upon, and the veteran left-hander’s struggles continued as he allowed a two-run homer to Jean Segura,

MIAMI -- After starter Jose Urena and six relievers covered 13 innings, the Marlins went with their most precarious pitching option in the 14th inning.

Long-time starter and now long-reliever Wei-Yin Chen was called upon, and the veteran left-hander’s struggles continued as he allowed a two-run homer to Jean Segura, which lifted the Phillies to a 3-1 victory over Miami at Marlins Park.

The Phillies held on in the longest game of the season for the Marlins and took two of three in the series. When Austin Dean grounded into a game-ending double play, the final out capped a 4-hour, 38-minute affair.

For Chen, it was more of the same.

At the end of Spring Training, Miami opted to not include Chen in the rotation, instead keeping him as a long reliever. The transition has gone anything but smoothly. In his previous outing, on Tuesday at Cincinnati, Chen was tagged for 10 runs, including four home runs, in two innings.

“So far, I think there is too much in my head,” Chen said through his interpreter. “I've been paying too much attention to what adjustments I should make, or my mechanics. Now, I just want to try to do my best to execute on every pitch. Today, even though I allowed a home run, I feel like I was much better. I feel I have been much more aggressive on the mound.”

It’s hard to take too much solace for Chen, who has an alarming 23.40 ERA in five innings over four games. He’s allowed 13 runs on 12 hits with five home runs.

“That's where you are at at this point,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “That's what his job is, basically. He’s trying to get through that. I've seen guys actually who actually get going in those types of situations. They come in, give you four, five, six innings. Hopefully, it wasn't going to have to be that. But I've seen it a lot where that guy comes in and pitches really well.”

The Marlins turned to Chen as their last bullpen option. Austin Brice had thrown three innings on Friday and wasn’t available.

“I'm sure, confidence-wise, it can't be good,” Mattingly said. “His spring wasn't good. It hasn't been a good start. I think anyone with confidence in that situation would waver a little bit. But he's been around and been through it. I expect him to bounce out of it.”

Urena had gone seven innings, allowing one run, while matching his career-high with seven strikeouts. Six relievers worked a combined six innings before Chen came in the 14th.

Chen allowed a one-out triple to Andrew McCutchen, and Segura followed with his game-deciding home run, which came on the 401st total pitch of the game.

“I was going to the plate trying to put the ball in the air far enough to let McCutchen score,” Segura said. “It was 0-2, and I was trying to battle. He hung a slider, and I was able to put the bat on it and keep it in the air and it was a home run.”

In hindsight, Mattingly says he regrets not intentionally walking the right-handed hitting Segura to face Bryce Harper, a left-handed slugger.

“That situation, I probably kick myself a little bit for not walking Segura and trying to go for two with Harper,” Mattingly said. “If I had to do it all over again, I probably would.”

Chen didn’t feel like he made drastic mistakes in terms of location with Segura.

“I was just trying to keep the ball down and avoid throwing it into his hot zones,” Chen said. “He actually was a little bit out in front, but he still managed to hit the ball so firmly. All I can say, is he did a good job hitting that pitch.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.