Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Smith fans 9 in career-high 7 IP for 1st MLB win

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- Caleb Smith set the tempo for the Marlins' starters a week ago, and the left-hander kept it going on Sunday. In the process, he collected his first big league win.

Smith fanned nine batters over a career-high seven innings, and Miguel Rojas belted a home run as the Marlins edged the Rockies, 3-0, to take two of three in the weekend series at Marlins Park.

View Full Game Coverage

MIAMI -- Caleb Smith set the tempo for the Marlins' starters a week ago, and the left-hander kept it going on Sunday. In the process, he collected his first big league win.

Smith fanned nine batters over a career-high seven innings, and Miguel Rojas belted a home run as the Marlins edged the Rockies, 3-0, to take two of three in the weekend series at Marlins Park.

View Full Game Coverage

"He really set the tone today for us, and we were able to scratch runs," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Video: COL@MIA: Mattingly on Smith's first career win

Winners of four of five, the Marlins have captured back-to-back series for the first time this season. Once again, starting pitching set the tone. In its last seven games, Miami's rotation has a combined 1.31 ERA over 41 1/3 innings.

"We played a lot of games early in the season that we were finding a way to lose," Mattingly said. "To put a couple of series in a row together, that's the only way you're going to actually ever get down the road, and get yourself back to respectability or towards respectability."

Smith, Drew Steckenrider and Brad Ziegler, who collected his third save of the season and 98th of his career, combined on the four-hit shutout.

Video: COL@MIA: Ziegler fans Story to earn his 3rd save

The hot streak started last Sunday in Milwaukee, with Smith allowing just two runs on two hits while striking out 10 and not walking a batter.

"Just getting confidence in myself again, and just going out there and pounding the zone," Smith said.

Smith walked just one Rockie and scattered two hits, as he remained in complete command. In his last two starts, Smith has given up two runs on four hits with 19 strikeouts and one walk in 13 innings.

Tweet from @Marlins: That's two series wins in a row! Look out, we're #JustGettinStarted.#JuntosMiami pic.twitter.com/UDfCYkS2KC

Acquired from the Yankees in November, Smith won his first big league game in his 15th appearance and eighth start.

The Marlins used analytics to point out Smith had the quality of stuff to get outs, as long as he attacked the zone. In his first four starts, the lefty issued 15 walks and recorded 22 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.

"It's really where we used analytics to show him, because he has a lot of swing-and-miss [stuff]," Mattingly said. "He was almost elite, swing and miss, amongst the league."

Smith threw 58 four-seam fastballs on Sunday, getting 11 swinging and 10 called strikes. According to Statcast™, his average four-seam spin rate is 2,409 rpm, with the Major League average being 2,262. Heading into Sunday, Statcast™ had Smith's spin rate as the 13th highest among all MLB starters who have thrown at least 25 four-seam fastballs. Justin Verlander paces the list at 2,629 rpm.

"They told me that, and everything just started clicking," Smith said. "I was beating myself in the first four starts. Change it up and not let them beat me."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Timely, two-out hits accounted for the Marlins' first two runs. In the second inning, Lewis Brinson delivered an RBI single to right field, scoring Brian Anderson.

Video: COL@MIA: Brinson drives in Anderson with RBI single

In the fourth, Rojas connected on his solo homer to left field off Chad Bettis, who gave up two runs in seven innings.

"I think Miggy is just more confident," Mattingly said. "Last year, he finally got to play, for the most part, the whole second half. It's just confidence. He's starting to figure out how he can be successful."

The Marlins added an insurance run in the eighth on Starlin Castro's sacrifice fly.

Video: COL@MIA: Holaday races home on Castro's sacrifice fly

SOUND SMART
Rojas had never hit more than one home run in a season. Miami's shortstop on Sunday belted his fourth. From 2014-17, he collected four homers over 358 games. Rojas' fourth of '18 came in his 27th game.

Video: COL@MIA: Rojas smacks a solo homer to left field

HE SAID IT
"I'm trying to put good swings on the ball. I feel I've been hitting the ball hard, just unlucky. [Saturday], I hit the ball hard three times and didn't get any hits. Today, I didn't hit the ball that hard, but it was a good pitch to hit. I'm happy I can help the team. I'm happy the numbers are there." -- Rojas

UP NEXT
The intention was for Dan Straily to be the Marlins' No. 2 starter entering 2018, but a right forearm strain caused him to open the season on the disabled list. Straily makes his first start at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday in the series opener with the Phillies, who counter with Jake Arrieta.

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

Miami Marlins, Caleb Smith