Urena hit by comebacker in opening loss

Right-hander gives up six runs over 4 2/3 innings

March 29th, 2019

MIAMI -- The big damage was done off Marlins right-hander Jose Urena in the fourth inning, when the 27-year-old was tagged for four runs, of which two were earned. But the afternoon had taken a turn for the worse in the second inning when Urena was struck on the lower left leg by a David Dahl comeback grounder.

Urena labored through 4 2/3 innings, yielding six runs in Thursday’s 6-3 Opening Day loss to the Rockies at Marlins Park.

The first Miami starter to work consecutive Opening Days since Josh Johnson did it three straight seasons (2010-12), Urena was a different pitcher after absorbing a shot off the back of his leg.

“It was getting a little tight,” Urena said. “But besides that, we tried to keep doing our thing. I tried to compete on it.”

Urena said the ball got him on the inside of his left knee, affecting his landing leg.

By the time Urena was lifted in the fifth inning, his two-seam fastball average was 93.5 mph, according to Statcast. In the first, Urena’s fastball averaged 95.2 mph, and he maxed at 96 mph in the opening frame.

“Early on, he was OK,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We saw a good changeup. We saw power stuff. It seems like [his fastball] ticked down a little bit. It seemed like he was having trouble with that leg a little bit.”  

Dahl had a big day off Urena, going 3-for-3 with two singles and a double. With one out in the second inning, the Rockies’ left fielder smoked a grounder tracked at 103.2 mph that caught the back of Urena’s leg for an infield hit.

“Obviously, Jose is the type of kid who is not going to say anything and let us take care of him there,” Mattingly said. “We saw as he went on a little bit, he was starting [to tire].”

The Marlins anticipate Urena making his next start, but his bruise is something that will be monitored.

“The fact he was able to continue on was probably a good sign,” Mattingly said. “I'm sure he's going to be a little sore tomorrow. But to be able to take care of him over the next few days, I'm assuming he's going to be OK.”

Urena was tended to by the training staff, threw a couple of warmup pitches and continued, but from that point on, he allowed 10 balls in play of 100 mph or higher.

“I’m glad he’s OK -- you never like to see anyone get injured, but I was just trying to stay up the middle and battle with two strikes there,” Dahl said.

In the fourth inning, Urena didn’t receive much defensive help. Errors by shortstop Miguel Rojas and center fielder Lewis Brinson led to two unearned runs. Dahl recorded an RBI single in the inning, and Chris Iannetta knocked a run-scoring double. And in the fifth, Trevor Story homered and Dahl and Desmond hit back-to-back doubles. Desmond’s scorched drive was 112.2 mph off the bat, the hardest hit ball of the game off Urena.

“That ball really hit him pretty good, pretty hard,” catcher Jorge Alfaro said. “I asked him, 'How do you feel? Do you feel good?' He just wanted to go out and compete. That's what we want to see, as a teammate. He wanted to keep competing. I like that. I just tried to help him however I can, try to help him compete.”

The Marlins aren’t expected to be a big home run-hitting club. But on Opening Day, they received a couple of big blasts from two players who didn’t start.

Miami’s first two runs came via pinch-hit home runs. connected off Kyle Freeland in the sixth inning, and in the eighth, belted a drive to right off Scott Oberg. For both, it was their second career pinch-hit home runs.

“It might be your only at-bat of the game,” Riddle said. “Try to attack him early, and don't miss anything. You don't want to go up there, see a couple of pitches and before you know it, it's 0-2, and you have to battle. Attack him early, and I did that.”

This was just the second time in club history the Marlins had two pinch-hit homers in the same game. The other time was on on June 22, 2006, at Baltimore (Wes Helms and Joe Borchard).

Riddle’s drive, per Statcast, was projected at 378 feet, with an exit velocity of 103 mph and a 23-degree launch angle. It was the first pinch-hit shot by a Marlin since Brian Anderson against the Braves on Aug. 25, 2018.

Walker’s home run was 417 feet, with an exit speed of 106.2 mph and a 30-degree launch angle. Walker is the first Marlin to hit a pinch-hit homer in his first at-bat with the organization since Jeremy Hermida’s grand slam against the Cardinals on Aug. 25, 2005.

“Coming off the bench, the odds are stacked against you from the beginning,” Walker said. “You want to be aggressive, and if you do get a pitch in the zone, regardless of what it is, you want to try to barrel it up. Both Riddle and myself were able to do that. More than that, we weren't able to get a win, so it's all for naught.”

“I'm not going to lie. My heart rate was a little up. It was more excitement, to be honest. Like, 'Hey, I'm here. Here's my opportunity.' I had some blood pressure going. I stayed calm through it. It was good." -- said Nick Anderson, who made his MLB debut in the fifth inning in relief of Urena

Trevor Richards has a devastating changeup. Per Statcast in 2018, the right-hander fanned batters 36.3 percent of the time with the pitch. Richards gets his first chance of the season to showcase his changeup at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday in Game 2 of the four-game series with the Rockies, who start German Marquez.