PITTSBURGH -- Dan Straily has been an anchor and a stabilizer in a youthful Marlins rotation. But on Friday night, the veteran right-hander had his start cut short due to a left oblique strain.
With Straily lasting just 4 2/3 innings, the bullpen wasn't able to pick up the rest. And despite a three-run home run by Lewis Brinson, the Marlins watched a one-run lead disappear in the seventh inning on Kevin Kramer's RBI single and Jordan Luplow's two-run home run. The drive to center off Tayron Guerrero rallied the Pirates to a 5-3 victory in the series opener at PNC Park.
In the aftermath of the series-opening setback, the Marlins' immediate concern turns to Straily's health and availability the rest of the season.
"It was one of those, 'Let's get out of there before this gets worse.' It was a little sore," Straily said. "It will be a big indication on how I feel in the morning as to what we're really dealing with here. Hopefully, we caught it before anything got too bad."
Guerrero allowed three runs, all with two outs in the seventh inning.
Making his 23rd start, Straily exited shortly after allowing a two-out double to Chris Archer.
Following Archer's double, Straily threw one pitch to Starling Marte and immediately signaled to catcher J.T. Realmuto. He was tended to by Marlins trainer Dustin Luepker. The veteran right-hander exited, and was replaced by Tyler Kinley.
"It was actually the second pitch to Archer," Straily said. "It went away. It just felt like something grabbed it, like a cramp or something. Really nothing out of the ordinary. Then I felt it again on the last pitch to him, and then the first pitch to Marte."
The Marlins have been going with a six-man rotation, and now the club faces the possibility of being without Straily. It's doubtful Straily will make his next scheduled start, but he could still return before the end of the season.
"I wouldn't think he would make his next start," manager Don Mattingly said. "But, [the trainer] is calling it day to day, so it didn't seem like it was that bad. We have to wait and see how it reacts tomorrow."
Brinson was the bright spot of the Marlins' offense, collecting three hits, including his three-run homer off Archer. Since being reinstated from the disabled list and joining the Marlins on Saturday, the rookie has hit safely in all six games in September. His hit streak is at eight overall, going back to before he went on the disabled list in July.
The 29-year-old Straily has been a veteran leader in a youthful rotation. Straily entered Friday night, coming off a season-high eight innings in a no-decision on Aug. 31 against the Blue Jays.
Straily was projected to open 2018 as Miami's No. 2 starter, but late in Spring Training, he was sidelined with right forearm inflammation. He made his season debut on April 30.
"I'd love to give more answers on it, but I just don't know yet," Straily said. "I'm not in a lot of pain. It doesn't hurt to breathe. A lot of the other things I've heard are part of it. But it's just one of those things that we'll just have to really wait until tomorrow to see what we're dealing with."
Before exiting, Straily allowed a two-run homer to Josh Bell. Statcast™ projected the ball to travel 403 feet, with an exit velocity of 104 mph. It was the Pirates first baseman's first home run and RBIs since Aug. 11.
"Just trying to pitch and keep us in the game," Straily said. "Honestly I don't remember a whole lot of the game. I was consumed with coming out right there. Really just kind of trying to get back into the groove against these guys and try to execute pitches. But obviously it got shortened a little bit."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Protecting leads late has been a problem for a few weeks for the Marlins, and the inability to log the third out in the seventh proved costly. After allowing a leadoff double to Jordy Mercer, Guerrero struck out Pablo Reyes and retired Marte on a fly ball to center, advancing Mercer to third. But the Pirates tied it on Kramer's RBI single to center. The decisive shot was Luplow's two-run homer on a 100.3-mph fastball that was down the middle. The Marlins bullpen now has blown 21 save chances on the season.
"I don't know if he's run out of gas," Mattingly said of Guerrero. "It's probably more innings than he's pitched in a while. He's had plenty of rest. But sometimes as guys get to the end of the year, they struggle."
"I learned a lot this season," Guerrero said. "Because my first year, I've been learning a lot. A lot of experience; good days, bad days. I think for next year, I have to come with my breaking balls better because if I use my breaking ball more and with my fastball, and in different counts, I'm probably going to get more success."
With his leadoff single in the fourth inning, rookie third baseman Brian Anderson snapped an 0-for-16 slump.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Brinson's sixth-inning home run off Archer was projected to travel at 396 feet, per Statcast™ with an exit velocity of 102.5 mph. Brinson also had a double off Archer in the second inning that had an exit speed of 98.2 mph. Brinson's final at-bat was a single to left, which was clocked at 109.5 mph in the ninth.
HE SAID IT
"I do want them to finish the year. I hate shutting guys down when they're healthy. We've got plenty of guys to not have to pitch them back-to-back or three out of four. I would like him to finish the year, so he knows what that feels like. But we'll definitely be protective of him the rest of the way." -- Mattingly, on Guerrero's late struggles and getting the rookie through the rest of the season
Wei-Yin Chen has been the Marlins' hottest starter of late, winning four of his last seven starts. The lefty gets the starting nod on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Pittsburgh. Ivan Nova will start for the Pirates. Chen's home/road splits remain puzzling. He has a 9.35 ERA away, compared to 1.77 at home.