PHILADELPHIA -- Wei-Yin Chen ran his hitless-innings streak to eight, and scoreless stretch to nine innings before Maikel Franco's grand slam in the third inning swung momentum in the Marlins' 7-4 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.Fresh off his strong start at Seattle, Chen's outing
PHILADELPHIA -- Wei-Yin Chen ran his hitless-innings streak to eight, and scoreless stretch to nine innings before Maikel Franco's grand slam in the third inning swung momentum in the Marlins' 7-4 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Fresh off his strong start at Seattle, Chen's outing was over after five innings and 83 pitches. The Marlins are being careful with their starters, and the series opener with the Phillies was another example of manager Don Mattingly not hesitating to go to his bullpen.
"We were built for this," Mattingly said. "This is the way we put our club together, knowing that we were going with eight relievers, so we're getting more innings out of our bullpen. We're set up for it."
The Marlins made the decision before Spring Training to carry eight relievers and go with a four-man bench.
Thus far, the team is spreading the innings around.
Marlins starters now have logged 98 1/3 innings on the season, which ranks as the fewest in the Majors. Conversely, their bullpen has tallied 75 2/3 innings, which is third most in the National League.
Ideally, Mattingly would rather see the starters working deeper into games, but he doesn't want to force the issue.
"I don't mind letting guys go, honestly," Mattingly said. "I much prefer them going six or seven, but I don't know if we've got anybody that you're going to see going nine. It's just a matter of how they're pitching and what their pitch count is, what part of the order is coming up. Who gives us a better chance of getting three outs in some of those innings?"
Due to two off-days and a rainout on Tuesday, Chen was going eight days between starts. In his last outing, he threw seven no-hit innings and 100 pitches in a win at Seattle.
The big damage Chen sustained on Wednesday was the grand slam to Franco.
"That was a mistake I made there," Chen said through his interpreter. "Because of that mistake, I couldn't minimize the damage. That's the last moment I want to have there."
The big blast came on a 2-2 fastball.
"I'm just thinking about the fastball because I know he likes to throw fastballs inside a lot," Franco said.
After Chen exited, Miami used two relievers to pick up the final three innings, with each yielding a home run.
Jarlin Garcia surrendered a solo shot to Freddy Galvis. And in the eighth inning, the Phillies iced the game on Michael Saunders' two-run homer off Dustin McGowan.
Without a true ace, the Marlins are being careful not to overstretch the starters. So after Chen was at 83 pitches, the decision was made to go to the 'pen.
"Who gives you a better chance of getting three outs right there?" Mattingly said. "That's really what you make your decision based upon."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.