MIAMI On hand to bless the pups during a Bark at the Park event in 2004, Father Joe Spina of the St. Francis Friary in Oakland Park received a request from former manager Jack McKeon. His team in a bit of an offensive dry spell, McKeon before the game asked Spina to intercede at the bat rack.
They totaled 12 hits in victory.
In spite of another slow day at the plate, the Marlins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1, 10th-inning, walk-off win over the Reds. Jeff Mathis opened with a double off Sam LeCure, moved to third on a Reed Johnson sac bunt and Christian Yelich delivered the game-winning hit.
"To get the big hit and start us off was huge," manager Mike Redmond said, of Mathis. "To score the winning run, I know that means a lot to him."
Nathan Eovaldi deserved better than a no-decision. The Reds did not get their second hit off him until Ramon Santiago opened a eighth with a single into short right.
With Eovaldi at 97 pitches, Redmond summoned Bryan Morris to preserve the 1-0 lead. A sac bunt and two-out, Billy Hamilton RBI-single later, the game was tied and Eovaldi's winless streak increased to six.
Eovaldi needed 10 pitches to retire the three batters he faced in the first. Seven of those offerings were 98 miles per hour or better. The four first-inning fastballs Todd Frazier saw came in at 99, 99, 100 and 99.
"Me and [pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandez] worked on a few things in the bullpen mechanically," said Eovaldi, adding he was getting better extension. "I feel that that helped out a lot. It helped with all my off-speed pitches and was able to work ahead in the count and throw all my off-speed pitches over the plate."
For the game, Eovaldi totaled 65 fastballs, 36 of which registered at 98 mph or better. Eovaldi entered the game with the fourth-best average fastball velocity (95.3) among qualifying pitchers in the majors behind Garrett Richards (96.4), Yordano Ventura (96.2) and Wily Peralta (95.4).
Eovaldi hadn't stopped throwing hard at any point, but his velocity dropped off a tick lately. His fastball averaged 97.00-97.60 miles per hour through his first four starts and reached a season-best 98.44 in an April 30 outing against the Braves.
His last time out Monday against the Nationals, Eovaldi's average fastball velocity registered at a season-low 94.90. That was the ninth consecutive game with a sub-97.00 figure, according to Brooks Baseball PITCHF/x.
"Just locating his heater," Mathis said. "It was obviously coming out really good. He had some life and was able to locate it. When he did het ahead he was able to put guys away. It was fun to be back there with him."
More impressive that his velocity was the number of swings and misses Eovaldi induced. Entering the game, he owned a 7.6 percent swinging strike rate (percentage of strikes that were swung at and missed), according to Fangraphs. The Reds swung and missed 16 times (23.5 percent), including 11 times on non-fastballs.
"That's the stuff we know he has and it's really just about consistency," Redmond said.
Jordany Valdespin's run-scoring single in the third was the only run support Eovaldi received. That hit gave Valdespin an RBI in two straight and three of his last four games. He's also knocked in at least one in five of his last eight games while hitting at a .321 clip (9-for-28).
Otherwise, Reds starter Homer Bailey kept the Marlins quiet, allowing three hits through a seven-inning, 99-pitch performance. One of those was a Giancarlo Stanton two-out double in the first that just missed leaving the yard. Vying for a homer in his fourth straight game, Stanton settled for a double off the top of the right-field wall.
Stanton has an extra-base hit in five straight games. If he gets one Sunday, he'll match the career-long run he set July 5-10, 2010. That streak included four doubles and three homers over 24 road at-bats against the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
Including Bailey, five straight opposing starters have held the Marlins to exactly one run over seven innings. None has allowed more than five hits. The others: Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos.
The aforementioned five held the Marlins to a .161 average (19-for-118) with six doubles, two homers, 12 walks and 30 strikeouts.
"We're battling, grinding," Redmond said. "You see guys trying to put some good at-bats together and we've hit some balls hard…These guys have some arms, but nice win and a great game and fortunately we were able to match the pitching and get the big hit."
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