A Florida Marlins offense that began the week leading the National League in runs scored has struggled in consecutive games against two of the league’s top pitchers.
The Marlins look to end their hitting slump Tuesday as they continue their four-game series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Florida (14-17) entered play Sunday averaging a league-high 5.6 runs per game. However, that mark dipped to 5.3 after the Marlins managed only two runs and eight hits while striking out 26 times in the last two games, thanks to strong performances by San Diego’s Jake Peavy and Dodgers starter Brad Penny.
Penny, who pitched for Florida from 2000-2004, allowed only five hits and struck out a career-high 14 in seven scoreless innings to lead Los Angeles to a 6-1 win over his former team in Monday night’s series opener. The Dodgers (19-13) held their opponent to one run or fewer for the 10th time this season as they improved to 11-6 on the road.
Marlins batters totaled 15 strikeouts for the fourth time this season. They also have struck out 55 times in their last five games, going 1-4 in that stretch and putting them on pace for a major league record for strikeouts in a single season.
“We didn’t do a good job of making Penny get the ball down,” said Florida first baseman Mike Jacobs, who is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts in the last two games. “That ball that’s up looks good to swing at, and obviously a lot of us are swinging at it. You’ve got to make him get it down, but when a guy is throwing 97, it’s tough to do that.”
Third baseman Miguel Cabrera has gone 1-for-8 with three strikeouts in the last two losses, and his season batting average has fallen from .367 to .349 in the process.
Mark Hendrickson (2-0, 1.30 ERA), who looks to keep the strong pitching going when he takes the mound for Los Angeles, has struggled in his career against the Marlins. The 6-foot-9 left-hander is 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in four starts versus Florida.
Hendrickson, though, has allowed only four runs in 27 2-3 innings spanning six appearances this season, and the Dodgers are undefeated in his three starts. On Wednesday, he held Arizona to three hits over six shutout innings in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory.
“There’s no pressure. For me, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing what I can do,” said Hendrickson, who entered the Dodgers rotation after Jason Schmidt went on the disabled list.
“My mind-set was preparing to be a starter. Obviously, with the acquisitions of Jason and Randy Wolf, I knew going into spring training that we already had a lot of starters. But throughout the course of the season, you’re going to need guys to step up in different roles for the team to be successful and accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
Wes Obermueller (1-1, 3.07) makes his third start of the year for Florida. The right-hander, who got called up from the minors on April 21, pitched three hitless, shutout innings of relief Wednesday in the Marlins’ 6-3 loss to the New York Mets.
Obermueller gave up five runs in 2 2-3 innings in his one career start against the Dodgers on June 5, 2005, when he pitched for Milwaukee.
The Dodgers have alternated wins and losses in their last five games, and are 2-2 on their seven-game road trip.
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