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Smith looks every part the ace in Marlins' win

Lefty shuts down Indians in longest outing of year; Kluber suffers broken arm
@JoeFrisaro
May 1, 2019

MIAMI -- No matter the lineup, Caleb Smith has been up to the challenge. In the process, the 27-year-old left-hander has become the Marlins’ stopper. On Wednesday night, Smith made fast work of the Indians, fanning eight in a season-high seven innings in the Marlins’ 4-2 win at Marlins Park.

MIAMI -- No matter the lineup, Caleb Smith has been up to the challenge. In the process, the 27-year-old left-hander has become the Marlins’ stopper.

On Wednesday night, Smith made fast work of the Indians, fanning eight in a season-high seven innings in the Marlins’ 4-2 win at Marlins Park.

“I'm feeling real confident,” said Smith, now 3-0. “I feel like I can throw strikes when I want to. I feel like I can throw all my pitches for strikes whenever I need to. And the defense behind me definitely helps that.”

Smith put a halt to Miami’s four-game losing streak, and gave the club its first win since his last start, on April 25 at Philadelphia. Although the left-hander wasn’t involved in the decision at Citizens Bank Park, he gave up one run in six innings.

After holding the Indians to one run on four hits in seven innings, Smith lowered his ERA to 2.00, and won his third straight decision. Miami (9-21) has won each of his last four starts. On Wednesday, the left-hander handled a team that’s been a playoff fixture the past few seasons.

“Honestly, I don't really focus on who is up to bat,” Smith said. “I go over the lineup, but I don't care who is up to bat. I just go with my strengths. I felt like every time I looked up, I was 0-2. That helps a lot.”

Smith matched his season high with eight strikeouts, which he's now done in three straight starts and four times overall in his six starts this year. The seven innings are his most since matching that total May 28, 2018 in a win over the Padres.

“He’s a really good pitcher,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He commands three pitches and he has a really good changeup. We knew coming in that he was a polished left-hander, and he showed every bit of that tonight.”

Of the 92 pitches he threw, Smith induced 21 swinging strikes. He mixed in 21 changeups with five swings for strikes, while also mixing in a slider and four-seam fastball that averaged 91.8 mph, and maxed at 93.5 mph.

“I don't think you see the ball real well off Caleb,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He's one of those guys who hides the ball a little bit. He's a little sneaky.”

Rosell Herrera had a career-high three RBIs on a two-run double in the fourth inning and a run-scoring single in the sixth. Herrera also made the defensive play of the game, robbing Carlos Gonzalez of extra bases with a diving catch in center field. The drive had an exit velocity of 105.5 mph, according to Statcast, and an expected batting average of .810.

The lone mistake Smith made was crushed by Roberto Perez, who blistered a home run with one out in the third inning. Statcast projected the drive at 413 feet with a 104.7 mph exit velocity.

The Indians received discouraging news after a play in the fifth inning when their ace, Corey Kluber, was struck on the right arm by a comeback line drive. Statcast projected Brian Anderson’s liner at 102.2 mph, and the Miami right fielder reached on an infield single.

Kluber attempted to make the play, and glove-flipped the ball to first. Immediately, he was tended to by the Indians’ medical staff, and he was replaced by Dan Otera.

An X-ray revealed Kluber has a non-displaced ulna fracture of his right arm.

“It's tough,” Anderson said. “It's never what you want to see. I don't even know what to say. It's sad to hear. It's baseball.

“You're just hoping that nothing bad has happened. We're out there competing against each other, but nobody on our team wants anybody on their team to get hurt. I know it's the same way the other way around.”

Miami scored three runs on eight hits off Kluber.

“That’s [terrible],” Smith said. “He’s a great pitcher, and I wish him the best.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.