Smith continues to lead MLB rookies in strikeouts
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Miami’s Caleb Smith was brilliant in dominating a matchup of rookie left-handers that went poorly for San Diego’s Eric Lauer.
Smith (4-5) allowed one run and four hits in seven-plus innings, Yadiel Rivera’s two-run single capped Miami’s four-run first inning and Cameron Maybin had three hits and two RBIs against his old team to lead the Marlins to a 7-2 victory against the Padres on Monday.
Smith struck out four to run his major league rookie lead to 69, and walked only one in the matchup of last-place teams.
“I just went right after them. They didn’t let me get to two strikes; just put the ball in play,” Smith said.
It helped that the Marlins jumped Lauer for a big lead in the first.
“That’s huge,” Smith said. “That’s a huge confidence booster and gives me a little breathing room.”
Smith’s only big mistake was allowing rookie Franmil Reyes’ homer to left field leading off the second inning, his second. He yielded a single to pinch-hitter Travis Jankowski leading off the eighth and made way for Drew Steckenrider.
“He’s a physical guy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s not a guy who looks like he’s running out of gas at 80 pitches. He was still throwing the ball good there in the eighth inning. It’s nice to have that kind of presence.
“He was in the strike zone,” Mattingly added. “He got a lot of popups at the top of the zone. He’s got that kind of life. As the game went on it seemed like his changeup got better and his breaking ball got better. He was pretty smooth out there.”
Smith made his big league debut with the New York Yankees on July 17 last year and went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in nine appearances, including two starts. The Marlins acquired him on Nov. 20.
Lauer (1-3) lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowing five runs and seven hits while striking out three and walking two. It was the third time in seven starts he went three or fewer innings.
Lauer’s struggles prompted manager Andy Green to make a double switch with one out in the third, after the lefty allowed Maybin’s second RBI single of the game and then walked Rivera. Robbie Erlin got Lewis Brinson to hit into a double play.
Erlin pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings a day after the Padres had to go with their bullpen exclusively in a 6-1 loss at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It’s frustrating giving up runs to begin with,” Lauer said. “I felt like in the first I was making pretty good pitches and they were hitting good pitches. That’s just baseball. You’ve just got to be able to last longer in games. That’s what I’m most upset about.”
Said Green: “We believe in him. We believe he’s going to get it. We know there’s good stuff coming for him and he’s shown us flashes of that good stuff. … My expectation is Eric is going to continue to get opportunities and he’s going to continue to rise up and meet the challenge in front of him.”
The Marlins’ first inning started inauspiciously for San Diego when first baseman Eric Hosmer, who wasn’t wearing sunglasses, lost a pop foul by leadoff batter Miguel Rojas. Although Rojas eventually struck out, it forced Lauer to throw several extra pitches.
Brian Anderson then doubled and scored on Starlin Castro’s single. Justin Bour doubled and Maybin hit an RBI single. Rivera then hit a line shot right at Lauer, who deflected it with his glove. The ball rolled into shallow center field for a two-run single.
Maybin was with San Diego from Nov. 13, 2010, when he was acquired from the Marlins, until April 5, 2015, when he was traded to Atlanta in a deal for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr.
The Marlins added two runs off demoted starter Bryan Mitchell in the ninth on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich and an RBI single by Rojas.
Padres: Placed rookie OF Franchy Cordero on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right forearm and reinstated outfielder Hunter Renfroe from the DL. Cordero was hitting .237 with seven homers and 19 RBIs.
Marlins: RHP Dan Straily (2-0, 3.12 ERA) is scheduled to make his third career start against San Diego on Tuesday night. He didn’t factor in the decision in two Marlins victories against the Padres last year despite pitching well, including striking out a career-high 14 without issuing a walk in seven innings.
Padres: RHP Tyson Ross (4-3, 3.13) is coming off a strong showing at Washington on Wednesday when he allowed one run on five hits and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 win.
By Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press.