Bullpen miscues lead to late loss

April 3rd, 2021

MIAMI -- The Marlins made it their offseason priority to revamp the bullpen, adding seven new faces to the mix after finishing 2020 with the third-highest relief ERA in the National League. Despite that, Miami reached the playoffs for the first time in 17 years in part because the club won games it led late, going 29-0 in the regular season when it held an advantage after seven innings.

Facing that situation for the first time in a young season, the outcome didn't go as planned in Miami's 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday night at loanDepot park. Handed a two-run cushion, entered the ninth for his Marlins debut. After a quick out, he gave up back-to-back singles before surrendering a go-ahead homer to Joey Wendle as part of a four-run inning.

Signed to a multiyear deal in January after pacing the Blue Jays with seven saves, Bass faced a familiar American League East foe. Tampa Bay was aggressive at the plate, something that didn't surprise the nine-year veteran. The Rays recorded four straight hits during a 15-pitch, 14-strike inning in which the righty faced seven batters.

Despite the result, Bass believed he had the right gameplan; the issue was the location of his pitches -- primarily his two-seam fastball to right-handed batters Manuel Margot and Yandy Díaz -- to begin the trouble.

"So I looked back at the video when I was looking at what was getting hit that inning," Bass said during a Zoom call. "My two-seam fastball seemed to be leaking over the middle of the plate. It was staying pretty flat tonight for whatever reason. And then I didn't execute my split to Wendle there. I cut it instead of throwing it down right where I want it to be. And, obviously, he did damage with it. Not the way I wanted to start my season by any means, but I know I want to get things right. I want to come out stronger tomorrow."

Below is a breakdown of each of the three homers the Rays hit against Marlins relievers on Friday:

LHH Joey Wendle vs. RHP Anthony Bass

The situation: 4-2 game with one out and two runners on in the ninth
The pitch: 1-2 splitter
2020 usage: Third pitch (6.8 percent)
Slash line against: .000 BA and .000 SLG in five plate appearances
Whiff percentage: 44.4
Putaway percentage: 16.7

"Looking for something up," Wendle said during a Zoom call. "I noticed he was leaving some of his offspeed up to some of the guys before, so really just trying to get him in the zone. And he left a splitter right there for me, and I kind of just ran into it."

LHH Austin Meadows vs. LHP

The situation: 0-0 game with one out and no runners on in the sixth
The pitch: 0-2 cutter
2020 usage: Third pitch (18.8 percent)
Slash line against: .111 BA and .111 SLG in 12 plate appearances
Whiff percentage: 0.0
Putaway percentage: 6.7

RHH Manuel Margot vs. RHP

The situation: 1-0 game with two outs and no runners on in the seventh
The pitch: 1-1 slider
2020 usage: Second pitch (43.5 percent)
Slash line against: .190 BA and .262 SLG with one homer in 47 plate appearances
Whiff percentage: 28
Putaway percentage: 18.3

In Thursday's Opening Day loss, Yimi García gave up the deciding homer to Meadows during the eighth inning. The common theme among the long balls has been location from Marlins pitchers.

"Usually when you watch any highlights, it's usually guys missing balls in areas that you don't want to be in and you end up paying for it," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said during a Zoom call. "... For the most part, you're going to see a guy trying to go in, leaks something, tries to go away and leaks to the middle, leaves the breaking ball up. You saw it with Curtiss tonight, Richard tonight, Bass tonight. That's really where the long ball comes from. It's just getting better execution next time."