NEW YORK -- What a difference a week makes for Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith. In his last start against the Dodgers on May 17, Smith didn't have command of his pitches and lasted three innings and allowed four runs."I was throwing too many balls. I walked four guys and walked
NEW YORK -- What a difference a week makes for Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith. In his last start against the Dodgers on May 17, Smith didn't have command of his pitches and lasted three innings and allowed four runs.
"I was throwing too many balls. I walked four guys and walked the bases loaded in the third inning. It makes it easier on them," Smith said about that start against Los Angeles.
It was different story on Tuesday night at Citi Field. Smith lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowed one run and struck out eight in a 5-1 victory over the Mets. It was the Marlins' first win of the season against New York in their fifth game against the division rival.
Smith was in control from the start. The only time New York had runners in scoring position against the left-hander was in the second inning, when the Mets scored their only run of the game. After he doubled to start off the inning, Jose Bautista scored on a sacrifice fly by Tomas Nido.
As good as he was, Smith felt there was still room for improvement.
"Fastball command wasn't really there. I just did a better job of putting it in the strike zone," Smith said. "I feel like I was more effectively wild, if anything. It worked out."
Smith was acquired from the Yankees this past offseason for right-hander Michael King and cash considerations. He is pleased to establish himself in Miami's rotation.
"It has been a blessing and it has been a lot of fun. I'm just looking forward to the future," Smith said.
Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler was just as good as Smith. He lasted six innings and allowed three runs -- one earned -- and struck out nine batters, which tied a season high. All three runs came in the second inning. Miguel Rojas drove in the first run when he singled to right field, scoring Brian Anderson.
The Marlins took advantage after third baseman Jose Reyes' throwing error on Smith's sacrifice bunt. With two outs, J.T. Realmuto singled to center, allowing Derek Dietrich and Rojas to score.
Miami added insurance runs off reliever AJ Ramos in the top of the eighth inning, when Dietrich hit a two-run homer to make it a four-run game.
Tuesday's win was Miami's first since its bullpen's epic ninth-inning meltdown against the Braves this past Sunday, and its relief pitching played a key role against the Mets, holding New York scoreless over 2 1/3 innings. Brad Ziegler, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday, was glad to be back out there on Tuesday. He had a clean ninth inning to seal the victory.
"Today I felt a lot better. I was ready to go. The big key in that situation was getting the first batter out -- do what you can and make good pitches to the first guy and put yourself in a good spot to get the rest of the batters," Ziegler said .
Smith leads all Major League rookies with 65 strikeouts. He is also 3-3 with a 2.41 ERA in his past six starts.
Right-hander Dan Straily will face the Mets for the fifth time in his career on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field. He is 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA against New York, including a 1.76 ERA in three starts vs. the Mets since joining the Marlins last year. Straily's counterpart, Jacob deGrom, tied a career high with 13 strikeouts in his last start vs. Arizona and enters play with a 1.75 ERA.
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.