PHILADELPHIA -- Before Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, manager Don Mattingly sat in the Marlins' dugout and talked about meetings he held with players earlier in the week. The takeaway, with 53 games left, was to "reset" and make sure his club kept its
PHILADELPHIA -- Before Thursday night's 5-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, manager Don Mattingly sat in the Marlins' dugout and talked about meetings he held with players earlier in the week. The takeaway, with 53 games left, was to "reset" and make sure his club kept its focus on what is within reason. With the postseason far out of reach, Miami must search for progress.
"This is a foundation for where we're going," Mattingly said. "We're going to continue to play the game right, continue to get prepared."
Pablo Lopez had little time to prepare to face the Phillies; he was supposed to pitch against the Braves Wednesday before a rainout pushed the rotation back a day.
It didn't matter. Lopez pitched well, recording 17 outs before Rhys Hoskins' solo shot in the sixth marked the first Phillie to get past first base.
Lopez allowed just five hits. He finished with five strikeouts and -- for the first time in six starts, dating back to June 30 -- no walks. Mixing locations to expand the strike zone, Lopez said, keyed him to feeling "really good."
"One of the main things [catcher J.T. Realmuto] and I talked about before the game was keeping the ball down," Lopez said. "This is a team that puts good swings if you miss over the plate, if you miss on their sweet spots."
Although Lopez's brief rookie season has not been spotless -- he's allowed homers in all but one of those starts and walked nine -- the impressive showing lowered Lopez's ERA from 5.34 to 4.67. He largely neutralized a first-place lineup Thursday night and has now lasted six innings in four of his starts.
That is the kind of progress the Marlins want from a 22-year-old right hander throwing for a spot in the team's future.
"Pablo is just staying on the hunt," Mattingly said. "He's a strike thrower. Being able to throw the ball in. I think in general, the way he pitches is fun to watch. He's pretty up-tempo."
The lead Lopez built lasted until a disastrous ninth inning in which Kyle Barraclough lacked any sort of command. The two batters he walked saw a combined one strike. His next pitch after loading the bases went behind Nick Williams. For his last pitch, he hung a 2-0 slider that Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco skied into the first row of the left-field seats.
When the ball landed, Franco celebrated the walk-off with a bat flip so violent it knocked his helmet off. The Marlins fell to 46-64, continuing to force them to examine any steps upward from the bottom of the division.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bour's blast:Justin Bour hadn't recorded a hit in five straight games entering Thursday. He smacked a two-run home run in the fourth inning to give the Marlins the lead and snap his 0-for-15 skid. The ball traveled 406 feet, according to Statcast™.
Barraclough struggles: On July 3, Barraclough owned a season-low 1.17 ERA. He had earned the closer's role and was awarded National League Reliever of the Month in June. But he has now blown three of his last four save opportunities. Two have come on walk-off home runs. Thursday night's blown save included two walks, two hits and just nine of his 24 pitches thrown for strikes.
Barraclough was not available for comment after the game. Mattingly said he wasn't going to decide Thursday night if a shift out of the closer's role would help his struggling right-hander.
"It's just been command," Mattingly said. "I think that's the biggest thing. Kind of the same as tonight. When you get yourself in trouble and you walk guys, and then can't get certain pitches over, you start limiting yourself."
HE SAID IT
"I have a lot of trouble walking [Franco], getting the bases loaded, where [Barraclough] is in a has-to-throw-a-strike situation, and I got two guys there. I didn't feel like we could walk him there and pin [Barraclough] down." -- Mattingly, on the decision to pitch to Franco in the ninth with first base open
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Barraclough's first pitch to Williams sailed past Williams' backside and bounced off the backstop. The Phillies challenged thinking the pitch hit Williams. The call stood, and Williams ended up hitting an infield dribbler later in the at-bat to plate the tying run.
Rookie right-hander Trevor Richards (3-5, 4.06 ERA) will start for the Marlins in Game 2 of the four-game set at Citizens Bank Park. Richards is coming off strong July in which he didn't take a loss, struck out 28 batters and posted a 2.30 ERA in five starts. The Phillies will send out Vince Velasquez (7-8, 4.02) for the 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch.
Joe Bloss is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.