NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Zephyrs had the parent-team Miami Marlins right where they wanted them Saturday.
And, on a beautiful day at Zephyrs Field before the home fans, it seemed a good chance for the Z’s to make a good impression, maybe swipe a roster spot, against a Marlins team of new players before the regular season begins.
However, power can be the difference between a major leaguer and a minor leaguer, and that seemed to be the case in the team’s exhibition game. The Marlins hit three home runs — two by third baseman Placido Polanco — in subduing the Zephyrs 7-0.
Polanco drove in five runs.
“I left two fastballs up,” said starter Brad Hand, who gave up six runs on eight hits in four innings. “The were both away, but up.”
Polanco set the tone for the day with a shot to left-center field in the top of the first with Alexandria native Juan Pierre on base. Hand escaped further damage when designated hitter Austin Kearns then doubled but was stranded.
Polanco struck again in fourth. After Pierre’s ground out brought in Kearns, Polanco homered to nearly the same spot with Doug Solano, who had singled to right, and Adeiny Hechavarria, who had walked, aboard. That made it 6-0.
Outfielder Isaac Galloway homered on the first pitch from the Zephyrs’ James Nygren in the seventh.
Wade LeBlanc, who prepped at Barbe High School and pitched at Alabama, was powerful on the mound. He cruised through four innings and got the win. He didn’t allow a hit and struck out three.
Manager Ron Hassey wasn’t pleased with the pitching of Hand, who was making his normal start in the rotation, nor much else the Z’s did.
“I thought for four innings, he was just a thrower,” Hassey said. “He was inconsistent with all of his pitching, never really got a rhythm. He pitched behind in the count, and he got hit.”
The Z’s got just three hits, and their best chance to score came in the eighth when they put two on with one out. However, Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos fanned the next two batters.
“We only had one positive in the whole game: We didn’t make an error; that was about it,” Hassey said. “Offensively, we didn’t swing the bats real well. We must be saving it for the (April 4 opener) against Nashville.”
Right fielder Bryan Petersen said the Z’s did not have a case of the nerves, and that there really are no spots up for grabs with the Marlins. “They’ve got it mapped out pretty well,” he said.
He said his team’s lack of production likely was because it was a little low on energy.
“We had a 3:30 (a.m. Saturday) wake-up call, was at the ballpark for 4, then rode two hours on the bus to the airport,” he said. “Then we flew here, got here around 9-something. So it was a long day.
“We tried to sleep on the bus, but that was about it.”
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