Pablo Lopez’s starts the first two months of this season were All-Star caliber.
It’s been a rollercoaster ever since.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lopez’s topsy-turvy results took a dive once again as the Padres jumped all over him with five runs in the first inning and dealt the Marlins a 10-3 loss at loanDepot park.
“The first inning even though I felt there were some competitive pitches, I didn’t do the best job of hiding the pitches and doing a good job of keeping everything the same and minimizing the risk of tipping pitches,” Lopez said. “As a starting pitcher, it’s my job to set a good tone for the game and I set a very bad tone for this game and I take responsibility for that.”
Lopez, who has dealt with injuries throughout his five major league seasons, has pitched a career-high 134 innings this year as he attempts to finish a season healthy for the first time.
Lopez lasted only 4⅔ innings against San Diego, after allowing six runs overall on six hits and three walks. He struck out two batters and exited in the fifth after throwing 85 pitches.
“He got a little inconsistent and off track when he got hit on the wrist in Houston,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It seemed like from there he got out of rhythm for a couple of starts and it’s kind of been choppy since then. He just got a little out of rhythm since then with his hands and just thinking about things.”
The Padres did the bulk of their damage when Jake Cronenworth blasted a 399-foot grand slam to right center field with two outs in the first. After Lopez walked Trent Grisham, Ha-Seong Kim followed with a double to plate another run.
Over his first 10 starts this season, Lopez compiled a 1.83 ERA with 61 strikeouts, 15 walks and allowed only five home runs over 59 innings.
Since his first start in June, Lopez’s results have fluctuated as he’s had seven starts where he’s allowed four or more earned runs and seven in which he’s allowed two runs or fewer.
During that stretch, Lopez has allowed 11 home runs and has a 5.40 ERA. The Marlins are 7-7 in those starts.
“There’s some things I need to clean up,” Lopez said. “There’s some crooked numbers now in every start. I think because of the struggles I went through with my mechanics, I found some mechanics that allowed me to be comfortable on the mound but that led to me not being able to hide everything. It’s just finding that balance and cleaning things up to make sure we’re in the right spot and not giving away anything.”
The Marlins cut the Padres lead to 6-3 in the fifth on a Brian Anderson double and loaded the bases on a JJ Bleday walk and when Nick Fortes was hit by a pitch. Reliever Adrian Morejon, however, proceeded to strike out Charles LeBlanc and Jesus Aguilar to end the threat.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Cole Sulser, who was reinstated from the 60-day injured list on Tuesday, pitched for the first time since June 12 on Wednesday. Sulser entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in relief of Richard Bleier and struck out Brandon Drury to end the inning without any damage.
Sulser missed nearly two months with a strained right lat and manager Don Mattingly said he’d ease him back into a high-leverage role. Sulser was 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 10 walks and two saves in 23 1/3 innings this season prior to the injury.
▪ Pitching prospect Andrew Nardi became the 11th Marlins player to make his major league debut this season.
Nardi, a lefty who is ranked No. 30 among the organization’s prospects by MLB Pipeline, had some uneven results in his first-ever appearance during the Marlins’ 4-3 win over the Padres on Tuesday.
Nardi worked a perfect sixth inning, ending the frame with his first career strikeout when Trent Grisham was called out on strikes on a well-placed 95.6-mph fastball. Nardi struck out Jorge Alfaro in the seventh, but ran into some trouble after giving up a pair of singles to Ha-Seong Kim and Jurickson Profar and walking Juan Soto to load the bases.
Nardi was charged with all three runs after Elieser Hernandez replaced him and surrendered a bases-clearing double to Manny Machado.
“It was definitely a little tough in the beginning,” Nardi said. “I couldn’t feel my legs, couldn’t feel anything out there, but I think toward the middle of the outing I was able to control myself. I think just toward the end I just got a little too excited and I got a little ahead of myself, but I was very excited to be out there -- a lot of fun.”
Nardi said he has benefited from having several days to be around the rest of the Marlins relievers and soak in the major league experience.
“It helped a lot (to have a few days), even when I had to warm up for the Braves game,” Nardi said after the game. “I had to get hot. I was feeling really good, but a lot of jitters that day, so these past few days of sitting and watching helped a lot to cool the nerves down a little bit.”
▪ Fortes on his aggressiveness at the plate and the adjustments he’s been making which led to his first career two-home run and three-hit game on Tuesday night:
“That (aggressiveness at the plate) just comes from being on time,” Fortes said. “Sometimes, I load a little bit late, see the ball a little bit late and then it’s by you, so it’s just timing stuff. If you’re on time, you see it better, you’re more confident, so just some minor, minor fixes.”
Both of Fortes’ home runs came off Padres’ starter Sean Manaea with the second coming on the first pitch of the at-bat.