Smith, Marlins stumble vs. Dodgers in finale
MIAMI -- For the past month, Caleb Smith has been the Marlins' most consistent starter. The left-hander had been cruising along, posting a 1.50 ERA in four starts since April 16.
The impressive ride came to a halt on Thursday afternoon, as Smith allowed four runs in three innings in the Marlins' 7-0 loss to the Dodgers at Marlins Park.
"It was definitely frustrating," Smith said. "I feel like I was making progress with everything, and then today was just a step backward, really. I just have got to move forward. Faced a control issue, that was it."
The Marlins still won two of three against the Dodgers, who snapped their six-game losing streak.
"That was a great series win," Smith said. "It's kind of upsetting for me that I couldn't help get us a sweep. We've got a really good defense, but you just can't defend walks."
Control was an issue, as Smith walked four, including three in the Dodgers' four-run third inning that broke the game open.
Smith hadn't issued more than two walks in each of his previous starts since allowing five runs and five walks in a loss at the Yankees on April 16.
"Just command," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It didn't seem like anything was really sharp. His changeup didn't have a lot of bite to it. The breaking ball didn't have a lot of bite. The three walks in the inning, you're not going to get away with that very often. Every once in a while you can, but it's a tough road."
Since that chilly day in New York, Smith has been gaining more notoriety for his high strikeout totals and few runs allowed. In his previous four starts before Thursday, the southpaw had allowed four runs in 24 innings with 31 strikeouts and four walks.
Due to an off-day and a switch in the rotation with Elieser Hernandez moving into the rotation in place of Jarlin Garcia, Smith was pitching on two extra days of rest. He hadn't thrown since May 10.
"I don't want to make excuses or anything, but seven days off is a lot," Smith said. "But there is no excuses. You've got to be prepared when you're called on."
A leadoff walk to Yasiel Puig to open the third inning led to Los Angeles' breakthrough frame. Smith walked the bases loaded, and then yielded a three-run double to Justin Turner, followed by Matt Kemp's RBI double.
At 77 pitches, Smith's afternoon was over.
Turner matched his career high with five RBIs.
The Dodgers padded their lead to seven runs with three more in the fourth inning. Puig homered off Junichi Tazawa, and Turner added a two-run double. After the game, the Marlins announced Tazawa had been designated for assignment.
The Marlins managed little off Kenta Maeda. Derek Dietrich had a second-inning double and Yadiel Rivera delivered a pinch-hit single in the third.
"Days like today, you've got to tip your hat," Miguel Rojas said. "The guy was mixing pitches good. He was working quick and throwing a lot of sliders. We couldn't figure him out."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
After the score got out of hand, the Marlins needed someone in the bullpen to pick up the slack. The unsung hero was Tyler Cloyd, who picked up five scoreless innings. The Marlins had hoped Tazawa could stabilize the middle innings, but the right-hander was tagged for three runs on four hits and a walk in a 32-pitch fourth inning. Cloyd used 83 pitches from the fifth inning through the ninth.
"Cloyd, he protected a lot of other guys in the 'pen," Mattingly said. "Today, it was good from the standpoint of zeros. He's had some outings where he did that but gave up a lot of runs. Today, it was almost like his fifth day. Today, was fairly sharp."
After Thursday's game, the Marlins announced Cloyd had been optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Brian Anderson's career-high on-base streak of 12 consecutive games came to an end.
HE SAID IT
"I'm sure he's tired of the meetings. I don't know if there is a whole lot to say. You just want to keep encouraging him to keep working, and keep his head up, that type of thing. With a guy like that, these are the times you stick behind those guys. You always have a belief that the talent will show. You know that talent is there. As a coach, you've got to be consistent through this period, because you don't want to turn your back on anybody. When times are bad, that's when you've got to be positive with guys." -- Mattingly, on rookie Lewis Brinson, who went 0-for-3 and is batting .168
Dan Straily faces the Braves for the second consecutive start, this time in the series opener at 7:35 p.m. ET Friday at SunTrust Park. Straily, according to Inside Edge, has thrown his slider to right-handed batters 41.3 percent since last year. The MLB average is 23.1 percent. Lefty Sean Newcomb starts for Atlanta.