Realmuto hits 2 HRs, but Richards labors in loss

All-Star catcher reaches 20 blasts for first time in career

September 4th, 2018

MIAMI -- Of all the rookies who have pitched for the Marlins this season, has been the most consistent and the one who repeatedly found a way to get into the sixth inning on a regular basis. On Tuesday night, the 25-year-old had a rude awakening against the Phillies.
greeted Richards with a leadoff home run, and the Phillies kept pushing forward in a 9-4 victory over Miami at Marlins Park.
Making his 21st MLB start, Richards lasted a season-low 1 1/3 innings. The six earned runs he allowed matched his season high, previously set on June 17 at Baltimore.

"I was just falling behind," Richards said. "I didn't have command of my fastball and it showed. I just didn't get it done tonight."
All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto belted a pair of solo home runs, padding his career-high total to 20.
, meanwhile, allowed four runs with 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings, and the Phillies rebounded after a 3-1 setback on Monday to even the three-game set.
, who had a two-run double and solo home run, has been a handful for the Marlins all season, hitting seven of his 23 homers against Miami.

Richards never was able to get into any rhythm. Of his 55 pitches, 28 were four-seam fastballs, and 22 were changeups.
"It just didn't look like he had any command of either pitch, really," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It wasn't his night. We haven't really seen many of these from him. He's had mostly pretty consistent starts. If he struggles a little bit, he seems to keep it together. It was one of those days, even with his changeup, the way he threw some of those up. He didn't have the fastball command that he needs to hang in there."

The Phillies never let Richards establish his changeup, his best pitch. The two big hits the Phillies got off the rookie right-hander in the first inning came against four-seam fastballs. Santana's leadoff home run was on a 2-1, four-seam fastball. Still, Richards had a chance to minimize damage in the first inning, but with two outs and the bases loaded, ripped a three-run triple to right field. The drive came on a 3-1, four-seam fastball, giving Arrieta a four-run lead before the veteran threw a pitch.

"That's not how you want to start the game," Richards said. "You have to reset after that [Santana home run], and continue to attack hitters. I wasn't close to the zone. My fastball wasn't there. I was trying to place it too much rather than just attack the hitters. I was trying too much. Sometimes, less is more."
Realmuto homered with two outs in the first inning, closing Miami's deficit to three runs. According to Statcast™, it projected at 410 feet, with an exit velocity of 105 mph. But the Phillies broke things open in the second inning on Cabrera's two-run double off Nick Wittgren, with the runs charged to Richards.

"For me, I've said it all year, fastball command is huge," Richards said. "Our game plan going in, I did my homework. I did everything preparation-wise. I just didn't execute pitches. My fastball wasn't there. I was trying to mix in offspeed to get back into counts when you can. If you are behind in the count consistently, you're not going to have success."
The Marlins did manage 11 hits, but left eight on base.
Realmuto's multi-homer game gave them a shot. Even the final out of the night, Realmuto came up with , who doubled, on second base when he scorched a liner that was run down in center by . According to Statcast™, the 103.7 mph liner had a hit probability of 87 percent.
"Obviously, J.T. is seeing the ball good right now," Mattingly said. "He's J.T. He's looked really good."
After Realmuto's second homer -- also off Arrieta and projected at 402 feet, with an exit speed of 101.2 mph -- closed the gap to four runs, the Marlins still had a chance to continue to chip away. and had singles in the eighth, but 's sharp liner to center off was right to for the third out.

"We've been pretty tough outs," Rojas said. "I felt we gave Arrieta a tough time. We had a couple of chances here and there. When we're coming from behind, we can't be as aggressive. You have to sit back and wait for the big inning." 
Of Realmuto's 20 home runs, 17 have come while he has been catching. He's also played first base and pinch-hit this year. The most home runs by a Marlins player from the catcher position is 19 by former All-Star Charles Johnson, who did it in 1997.
After JT Riddle was scratched due to a sore left wrist, Rojas got the start at shortstop. In the second inning, Rojas made one of Miami's better plays of the season. With the bases full and two outs, bounced a grounder to the hole at short. Rojas made a sliding stop, and from the ground, he bounced a throw to third baseman , who stretched like a first baseman, and collected the throw to nab Cabrera for the third out.

"That's where preparation comes, when you are expecting things are coming to you before the play," Rojas said. "I know when [Kingery] hits balls on the ground, he pulls them like he did. I have no chance at second with Cesar Hernandez running. I have no arm to throw that deep in left field to first, so I told Andy I was going to third if that ball was on the ground. It's really easy when you plan things in your head, and they happen."
"It was a tough start for Richards, but I think he's going to learn from that. They came to the baseball field trying to score runs early. They saw what we did yesterday." -- Rojas
The Marlins close out their homestand and three-game set with the Phillies at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Rookie (1-0, 1.80 ERA), ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 2 prospect, makes his first big league start since June 29. He was out with a right axillary infection. (7-10, 4.66) goes for the Phillies.