MIAMI (AP) — The right-hander who threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season for the Miami Marlins might be only the third- or fourth-best young arm in their rotation.
That's how good the Marlins' pitching is.
Henderson Alvarez no-hit the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, and the Marlins scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to win 1-0. The victory provided an exhilarating finish to a dismal season for the Marlins, who lost 100 games and had the worst offense in the majors by far.
Their shortcomings overshadowed a talented pitching staff that won raves, if not a lot of games, stirring hope for a quick turnaround.
"They're not going to be far away, with the pitching I've seen," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm sure they're probably looking for a little more offense, but I'm really impressed with their pitching. And one thing about it, if you've got pitching, you've always got a chance."
Leyland offered his positive appraisal even before Alvarez no-hit his team. The 23-year-old Venezuelan finished 5-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 17 starts after missing the first three months of the season because of shoulder inflammation.
Alvarez was one of four starters 23 or younger with an ERA below 3.80. Nathan Eovaldi (4-6, 3.39), Jacob Turner (3-8, 3.74) and NL rookie of the year contender Jose Fernandez (12-6, 2.19) provide the potential foundation for a rotation for the next several years, at least.
"A lot of teams don't have the depth of pitching we do," manager Mike Redmond said. "Now it's just a matter of trying to fill in the pieces to help us offensively."
Feeble bats doomed the Marlins to their third consecutive last-place finish in the NL East. They were last in the majors in runs, home runs, batting, slugging and on-base percentage, scoring less than even their 1993 expansion team. They had the worst slugging percentage in the majors at three positions — first base, third base and catcher.
The Marlins' ineptitude drew international notoriety, with the South China Daily reporting on their 100th defeat last week. The franchise's loss total rose for the fourth consecutive season, and attendance slumped to last in the NL, even with the Marlins playing in a sparkling ballpark that opened just 18 months ago.
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