It took all of six pitches before the Atlanta Braves made their move against Miami Marlins starting pitcher Trevor Rogers on Friday.
Ronald Acuna Jr.’s line drive scorched off his bat into left field for a leadoff double was just a sign of things to come.
The Braves teed off against Rogers, hitting three home runs and pegging the lefty for five runs on eight hits and two walks over just four innings as Miami ultimately fell 5-3 at loanDepot park to begin a three-game series against the defending World Series champions.
“I didn’t give our team a chance at all today,” Rogers said. “This one’s on me.”
The Marlins (17-21) managed to cut their deficit to two runs in the sixth on a Jorge Soler two-run home run and had the game-tying runs in scoring position with one out after Brian Anderson hit a single and Jesus Sanchez hit a double.
But Bryan De La Cruz lined out to shortstop Dansby Swanson and Jacob Stallings’ fly ball to left-center field died on the warning track, feet away from being a go-ahead three-run home run.
Their subsequent chances fell short as well. Miami had runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh after a Jesus Aguilar infield single and Sanchez double before Avisail Garcia hit an inning-ending flyout.
They had a runner in scoring position with one out in the eighth when Garrett Cooper recorded a pinch-hit double. He moved to third on a De La Cruz groundout but was stranded after Stallings struck out swinging.
Miami went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position on Friday.
“You’d like to get them across. In general, I always think about when I get a stat like that for a game, I’m like ‘OK, if I can do this 10 games in a row and get guys in scoring position every night, we’re going to be in a good spot,’” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, whose team is tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the eighth-most plate appearances with runners in scoring position (365) but has the ninth-lowest batting average (.229) and 10th-lowest OPS (.687) in those situations. “Sometimes, you’re going to get a bunch across. Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to get any — maybe you get one or two.”
But the late chances weren’t enough to offset Rogers’ sluggish outing. The Marlins were down three runs after the first inning after Ozzie Albies’ RBI single drove in Acuna and Marcell Ozuna lifted a slider below the strike zone a projected 384 feet to left field for a two-run home run.
Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud added solo home runs in the second and third innings to pad their lead.
Overall, nine of the 15 balls the Braves (18-21) put in play against Rogers had an exit velocity of at least 103.3 mph.
“I was missing location,” Rogers said, “and they really had a good game plan. I think they were all looking in and they weren’t missing. Me missing my location didn’t help at all.”
This is now a new phenomenon for Rogers, though. Friday marks the third time this season through eight starts that Rogers has given up at least five earned runs while pitching fewer than five innings. His ERA for the season is 5.20 and his six home runs allowed in 36 1/3 innings this season match the total he gave up in 133 innings in 2021 when he finished as the runner-up for the National League Rookie of the Year.
Also, Rogers has a 6.15 ERA (18 earned runs over 26 1/3 innings) in six starts against the Braves, including Friday. The Marlins have lost all six of those outings.
Miami broke up the shutout in the second when De La Cruz’s single scored Anderson, who led off the frame with a double. Anderson has safely reached base in 23 consecutive games.
The Marlins’ bullpen threw five scoreless innings — three by Louis Head and one apiece from Dylan Floro and Steven Okert — to give the offense a chance to make its comeback that fell two runs short.
While his home run wasn’t enough to complete the Marlins’ comeback attempt on Friday, it was the latest sign of Soler producing the way Miami hoped he would when they signed him to a three-year, $36 million deal this offseason.
Soler now has hits in nine of his past 10 games, dating back to May 7 against the San Diego Padres when he had two hits and a grand slam. In that stretch, he is hitting .293 (12 for 41) with three multi-hit outings, five home runs, 12 RBI and seven runs scored.
Soler sat in the Marlins’ previous two games on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Washington Nationals while dealing with back stiffness before playing as Miami’s designated hitter on Friday.
▪ Infielder Joey Wendle, on the injured list with a right hamstring strain, is participating in all baseball activities but has not yet been cleared to rejoin the team. The anticipation is that he would do a rehab assignment before joining the active roster.
“The one thing with the hamstring is you’d like to see a guy go out and play a game,” Mattingly said. “Just so that if he runs hard — and Joey always runs hard — and if he’s feeling anything at all, if that happens after you activate him, now you’re back in another window of time [missing games]. You’d like to stay away from that.
▪ Richard Bleier threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Friday and will most likely head to a rehab assignment next. Bleier has been on the injured list since May 8 after testing positive for COVID-19.
”It’s just a matter of getting him sharp again,” Mattingly said. “He was just getting sharp. We don’t want him to come back and just try to work his way into shape here. We’d like him to be sharp because he was at that point where he was starting to throw the ball really well and all of a sudden he’s out 10 days. ... I know [pitching coach] Mel [Stottlemyre Jr.] was talking about wanting him to go out and pitch a game.”
▪ Right-handed pitcher Sixto Sanchez is still throwing from 90 feet on flat ground but is simulating his throwing motion on a mound without actually throwing.