MIAMI — It’s fair to say that Jesus Luzardo is back. On Wednesday night, he went six innings, struck out eight and surrendered only one hit to All-Star Yandy Diaz. Instead of going to his usual fastball, the Venezuelan went to his changeup more on Wednesday, which has been his third most used pitch this season.
“Zeus was incredible tonight,” said Miami Marlins manager Skip Schumaker. “I thought [Nick] Fortes did an incredible job as well, behind the plate blocking the balls [with runners] on second and third, and he was throwing slider after slider and Nick was working his tail off.”
For the Rays was Zach Eflin, who was every bit as dominant as Luzardo tonight. He went 6.1 innings, struck out four, gave up four hits and no runs, improving to 13-8 on the season.
Eflin, who received the largest free agent contract in team history, went with his three usual pitches: sinker, curveball and cutter. Although he was unable to get many whiffs, he was able to generate a lot of weak contact that resulted in quick outs.
“Just being able to throw strikes, get ahead of guys,” said Eflin when he was asked what was working for him. “Keeping my balance, mixing up pitches. CB (Christian Bethancourt) was once again awesome behind the plate.”
Something to note is that in the bottom of the fifth inning, with Yuli Gurriel at the plate and Jesus Sanchez on second base, Gurriel hit a foul ball that went deep into the right field corner and Sanchez didn’t attempt to tag and go to third. It ended up being moot, but Skip was asked about it postgame.
“Yeah, he should tag, didn’t do anything but yeah, it should have happened. We talked about it and he understood,” said Schumaker.
Gurriel later grounded out which moved Sanchez to third base, but Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt picked Sanchez off. “We know Bethancourt has an absolute cannon behind there and when there’s a left-hander up, that could be a call play all the time, and I think it looks worse when you don’t score,” said Skip.
After a back and forth between both teams pitching staffs, the Rays struck first in extra innings. With a man on second base, Jonathan Aranda moved up the base-runner with a single and then Josh Lowe hit the game-winning RBI single to drive in Jose Siri.
Although that was the Ray’s winning run, they extended their 1-0 lead thanks to a Randy Arozarena two-run single that drove in both Aranda and Lowe to give Tampa a 3-0 lead in the top of the tenth.
“We had some good at bats all the way through,” said Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash. “They pitched really really well. Luzardo was spot on. Fortunately for us, Efllin kinda went toe-to-toe with him and did the same thing.”
David Robertson pitched the ninth inning in what was his first appearance since Saturday’s meltdown against Washington. He came into a tie game rather than a save opportunity in the top of the 10th inning where things unraveled for him.
“It’s frustrating,” said David Robertson following the game. “I’ve said many times I really don’t like the new rules in baseball, I think they should wait till the 12th inning to do that, but that’s the game we’re playing right now. Siri is a fast runner. Those guys put three ground balls and we ended up with a loss.”
With the Marlins loss, they now drop to a game under .500 at 66-67. The last time the Marlins were under .500 was on May 25th when they were 25-26. They now head to Washington D.C. to face on the red hot Washington Nationals. Eury will take the mound on Friday.
- After his fourth strikeout of the game, Jesus Luzardo passed Dontrelle Willis for the second-most by a Marlins left-hander in a season in franchise history with 171.
- Andrew Nardi left Wednesday’s game after he was struck by a 99.6 MPH comebacker by Harold Ramirez. X-rays were negative and he hopes to avoid the IL.
- Miami lost the season series to Tampa 3-1 as their Citrus Series struggles continue.