MIAMI -- Pitching in high-leverage innings late in games is difficult enough for any reliever. Marlins lefty Mike Dunn is also dealing with having to shake off some rust after being on the disabled list until a few days ago.In Friday's 6-2 loss to the Mets, Dunn was burned by
MIAMI -- Pitching in high-leverage innings late in games is difficult enough for any reliever. Marlins lefty Mike Dunn is also dealing with having to shake off some rust after being on the disabled list until a few days ago.
In Friday's 6-2 loss to the Mets, Dunn was burned by James Loney, who belted a two-run homer that put New York ahead to stay in the seventh inning. Loney jumped on the first pitch Dunn threw, and his blast snapped a 2-2 tie.
The lone lefty in Miami's bullpen, Dunn opened the season on the disabled list with a left forearm strain. He was reinstated on Tuesday, and he made his first appearance on Wednesday. In that game, a 3-2 win over the Pirates, Dunn entered with the bases full and allowed a two-run single to Matt Joyce.
After Loney's homer, Dunn closed out the inning, striking out two, while giving up two hits.
"Obviously, he's given up a couple hits when he's came in, but he ends up finishing that inning," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's where we are at right now. I think he's going to get better and better."
The Marlins are banking on Dunn matching up against left-handed hitters in the late innings. He has a track record of success, but this year, he is far behind in game experience.
Dunn went from pitching on March 24 in Spring Training to throwing three rehab assignment innings for Class A Advanced Jupiter before rejoining the big league club.
"It's my fifth game in two months," Dunn said. "Ultimately, I expect to pitch better. There's no excuses."
On Friday, the Marlins had a chance to pull even with the Mets for second place in the National League East. They tied the score at 2 in the sixth inning on Marcell Ozuna's sacrifice fly.
Miami starter Tom Koehler opened the seventh, but he walked Wilmer Flores on four pitches, prompting Dunn to be called in for Loney, who delivered the 100th homer of his career.
"It was a fastball down the middle," Dunn said.
Physically, the southpaw feels fine.
"It's a matter of getting back into the groove of things," Dunn said. "I have to come in here and I have to earn the respect of my teammates and my coaching staff. Ultimately, that just comes down to executing your pitches and going out there and doing your job. Twice, I haven't done it."
Koehler has seen Dunn come through plenty of times in the past. It's a matter of the lefty getting into form as quickly as possible.
"Everyone now is getting closer to midseason form, and he's coming back after throwing [a few] rehab games," Koehler said. "There's going to be some rust.
"We need him. He's huge for us. I hear a lot of people always try to find the negatives in what he does. He's been a workhorse in that bullpen. You know when he comes out he's going to give you everything he's got. He's been very successful doing it."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.