NEW YORK — The Florida Marlins reached the World Series despite a significant downturn in their starting pitching, overcoming a group that's now stirring concern from the Bronx to South Florida.
Another shaky performance from a Marlin starter Sunday night contributed to a 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium.
Left-hander Mark Redman had his second consecutive brief and ineffective outing of the postseason, lasting 2 1/3 innings, as the Yankees took command early and evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Redman followed a familiar, frustrating pattern for Marlin starters not named Josh Beckett, throwing 24 strikes in 50 pitches as the Yankees patiently waited for a big mistake.
And it didn't take long, as Hideki Matsui connected for a three-run home run in the first on a 3-and-0 pitch. The Japanese slugger gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead, energizing his teammates and a crowd of 55,750 a night after the Big Apple's favorite team seemed dazed and confused in an opening, 3-2, loss.
The Yankees are alert now, and the Marlin rotation still isn't holding up its end as the World Series shifts to Pro Player Stadium.
As the Marlins return home to Florida, they face serious rotation questions and might not have the answers.
"You're on a short leash when you're in the playoffs, and that's just the way it is," said Marlin starter Brad Penny, who worked 5 1/3 innings in winning Game 1, lowering his playoff earned-run average to 10.32.
"You don't really have the chance to stay out there and work out of things, and you understand that. You give up four runs now and you're probably out of the game.
"It's not about adjusting mechanics at this time of the year, that's out the window right now. It's just about making pitches and hitting your spots."
Beckett, scheduled to start Game 3 on Tuesday, was the only Marlin starter to do that consistently during the team's surprising National League pennant run.
Of the Marlin pitchers to start at least two playoff games, Beckett, with a 2.82 earned-run average, is the only one below 6.50. And that from a rotation that had a respectable 3.91 mark during the regular season.
On Sunday, Redman gave up five hits and four runs, leading to another early exit. He was pulled in the fourth inning of Game 7 of the NL championship series after giving up five runs and throwing 69 pitches.
"Bottom line is, I had two bad starts back to back," Redman said. "You could say it was a lot of things."
Actually, it's not that complicated, Manager Jack McKeon said.
"You can't keep pitching behind," McKeon said. "Redman's problem, the last couple of games, is he stays behind hitters.
"Then when you have to come in, the hitter has the advantage. You've got to pitch and stay ahead of the hitters."
McKeon didn't reveal his rotation plans past Game 3, but he indicated that Carl Pavano, who pitched a scoreless inning Sunday in relief of Redman, could still be in line to start Game 4.
"These guys all really carried us down the stretch," setup man Braden Looper said of the starters. "When we weren't scoring for a while, they were shutting out people.
"Our starters have been outstanding; we wouldn't be in this position without them. If we're going to win this thing, they're going to get it done for us."