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Off-inning for Anderson costly in grand way

@JoeFrisaro
May 4, 2019

MIAMI -- Not only has Nick Anderson been the biggest surprise on the Marlins, statistically the hard-throwing right-hander has been one of the top relievers in the Majors. Sporting an 18.69 strikeouts per nine innings, Anderson has worked his way into more high-leverage situations. But on Saturday night, in his

MIAMI -- Not only has Nick Anderson been the biggest surprise on the Marlins, statistically the hard-throwing right-hander has been one of the top relievers in the Majors.

Sporting an 18.69 strikeouts per nine innings, Anderson has worked his way into more high-leverage situations. But on Saturday night, in his longest outing of the season, the lanky reliever was tagged for a grand slam by Ozzie Albies in the sixth inning that rallied the Braves to a 9-2 win over the Marlins at Marlins Park.

Box score

Anderson surrendered five runs in the game-changing sixth inning, which catapulted Atlanta to a lead right-hander Mike Soroka didn’t surrender.

“I'm out there trying to execute my pitch,” Anderson said. “Made a couple of good pitches, and they just got a piece of it. They didn't crush anything, except for the home run. I'm just trying to be out there and execute my pitches. They got a couple of guys on base, just putting the ball in play. I didn't execute my pitch to Albies.”

But the game flipped on a 95.5 mph fastball with Anderson ahead in the count 1-2 against Albies. Anderson was literally a strike away from escaping the sixth having allowed just one run, which came via some bad luck.

“It seemed like we got out of a few jams before that one,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Really, we were getting to the point where we wanted to be. We had Nick in there. I feel like if we get out of that one, we move on to the next guy. But obviously, we didn't get out of that one.”

For the season, Anderson has been lights out -- sporting the second-best strikeouts-per-nine-innings average (18.69) of any reliever. Only Milwaukee’s Josh Hader’s 19.44 Ks/per 9 is higher. Anderson also had a 2.08 ERA in 13 appearances.

And in the fifth inning, the right-hander inherited a man on second base and one-out situation from Trevor Richards, who worked 4 1/3 innings. Anderson fanned Josh Donaldson looking and retired Freddie Freeman on a fly ball to left.

“I can't have 90 pitches after four or five [innings],” Richards said of his 4 1/3-inning outing that lasted exactly 90 pitches. “Overall, stuff-wise, I felt I commanded my pitches pretty well. Just need to attack a little bit more.”

With the Marlins ahead, 2-0, in the sixth inning, the Braves rally started with a softly struck grounder by Ronald Acuna Jr. for an infield single to third. Initially, Acuna was ruled out, but the call was overturned on a Braves’ challenge. Nick Markakis had a single that Statcast tracked at 70 mph, and Brian McCann lofted an opposite-field RBI double that had an exit velocity of 75.3 mph.

Statcast projected Albies’ grand slam, the third of his career, at 388 feet with an exit speed of 101.2 mph.

“I just didn't execute my pitch, and they capitalized on it,” Anderson said. “That's really all there is to be said on that.”

The decisive blast came on Anderson’s 33rd pitch of the night. He ended up with 35 total pitches in 1 2/3 innings. It was a season high in total pitches and innings pitched. His previous high was 27 pitches on April 3 against the Mets, and a few times worked as much as 1 1/3 innings.

Miami has lost six of seven, and is 9-23 overall. Mattingly said he is watching to see how the team responds mentally.

“They've been pretty good, but we're definitely paying attention,” Mattingly said. “Games like this feel terrible because we got a little bit of a lead, and then it gets away from us and it turns into that. We kicked the ball around a little bit. It's one of those games that doesn't feel good. That's the main thing we have to watch is to make sure that we are continuing to prepare, continuing to play hard, and keep going. Yeah, I'm definitely watching.”

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