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Marlins can't overcome Chen's rough start

June 1, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- After enduring a walk-off loss on Wednesday night, the Marlins were hopeful of getting a quality start from veteran Wei-Yin Chen. It didn't turn out that way.Chen, who was coming off his longest outing of the season, experienced the shortest start of his career. The left-hander lasted

SAN DIEGO -- After enduring a walk-off loss on Wednesday night, the Marlins were hopeful of getting a quality start from veteran Wei-Yin Chen. It didn't turn out that way.
Chen, who was coming off his longest outing of the season, experienced the shortest start of his career. The left-hander lasted 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, and the Marlins were unable to recover in an 8-3 loss to the Padres on Thursday night at Petco Park.
"From our standpoint, it didn't look like he had anything tonight," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves picked up on that in the bullpen pregame.
"The only thing I would think of is it would have been a little bit from [Chen's] last outing," Mattingly said. "He goes seven-plus, and the recovery time is his regular time. That would be the only thing, but nothing that would be a concern. The ball wasn't coming out. It was one of those games."

In his previous start, Chen threw 7 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Nationals. The left-hander has made just seven starts since coming off the disabled list with a left elbow strain.
"I don't think it had anything to do with that," Chen said of possible fatigue from his last start. "It's baseball. Sometimes you have good days, sometimes you have bad days. All you can do is focus on what you have to do to do your job. For me, I don't think it has anything to do with pitching into the eighth inning the last time."
The four-game series started out promising, with the Marlins winning the opener on Monday, but they dropped the final three. The most emotionally crushing was a 3-2 setback Wednesday, when San Diego scored twice in the ninth inning.
Padres right-handed starter Jordan Lyles kept Miami off-stride and struck out seven in seven innings.
"I thought the at-bats were not great tonight, honestly," Mattingly said.
Derek Dietrich belted a solo home run in the eighth inning Thursday off Kirby Yates, but the Marlins were behind by five runs when the drive, projected by Statcast™ at 406 feet, landed in the seats in right field.
"Lyles pitched pretty well," Dietrich said. "He had a nice little mix working. He had a good curveball. It looks like he kept us off balance a little bit. He was mixing in some off-speed early in the counts."

The Marlins were in an early bind, with Chen allowing four runs in the first two innings.
Chen has made 151 career starts, and in all of them he lasted at least two innings. Previously, his shortest one was 2 1/3 innings, against the Rockies on June 18, 2016.
Chen was victimized by the long ball, giving up a two-run home run to Christian Villanueva in the first inning. In the second inning, the lefty was in position to escape without any further damage. But with two outs and A.J. Ellis on first, Chen walked Lyles on four pitches, and followed that up with a free pass to Jose Pirela. After a mound visit, Eric Hosmer lined a two-run single to center.

"I didn't feel really different from the beginning," Chen said. "I was just trying to do my job, as always. The thing I think caused the problem was the walk to the pitcher. Other than that, I felt normal."
At the plate, Chen helped himself with a two-run single to center in the second inning. Those were the first RBIs of his career, and they came on his 69th at-bat.
"That's probably the only thing I can be happy about tonight," Chen said. "Those also are my first two RBIs lifetime. That's one good thing about it. Unfortunately, pitching-wise, I didn't do that well. It wasn't a good pitching night, after all."

Considering how the game played out, it won't get much attention. But right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne stepped up after Chen was lifted. The right-hander worked 4 1/3 innings, getting the game into the late innings. Despaigne did allow three runs, with two earned, but his 76 pitches and nearly five innings saved the rest of the bullpen.
Despaigne came off the disabled list recently, after missing time with a right forearm strain. In recent weeks, he built up on a rehab assignment at Triple-A New Orleans.
"He got built up gradually down there, but he had gotten to where we felt he was legitimately a long guy," Mattingly said. "So, he was ready for that."

Dietrich's first big league hit came on May 8, 2013, at Petco Park, and it was a single. In the eighth inning, Dietrich connected on a home run, a towering shot to right that Statcast™ projected at 406 feet with an exit velocity of 107.5 mph.
Lewis Brinson may be struggling at the plate, but the rookie still covers plenty of ground in center field. In the fourth inning, Brinson left his feet to make a diving play to rob Pirela of a two-out hit. According to Statcast™, Pirela had a 38 percent hit probability.

"Unfortunately, we didn't play our best ball. We usually play well against the good teams. I don't think you rise to the occasion, you just know you've got to play well. I feel like we let off the gas a little bit against this Padres team. You can't do that against anybody. Every team has a chance to win. Every team has good players." -- Dietrich on dropping three straight
Rookie Elieser Hernandez has been a pleasant surprise, posting a 2.50 ERA, but the right-hander seeks his first MLB win. He's 0-2 with nine strikeouts in 18 innings. Hernandez takes the mound on Friday at 9:40 p.m. ET at Arizona. The D-backs counter with Clay Buchholz.

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