MIAMI -- Chris O'Grady has done everything the Marlins have asked of him since his callup earlier this month, but he flashed more than that in Thursday night's 4-1 win over the Reds.The rookie left-hander sat down Cincinnati hitters left and right, tossing seven scoreless innings while striking out five
MIAMI -- Chris O'Grady has done everything the Marlins have asked of him since his callup earlier this month, but he flashed more than that in Thursday night's 4-1 win over the Reds.
The rookie left-hander sat down Cincinnati hitters left and right, tossing seven scoreless innings while striking out five in his second victory and best start of his young career.
Perhaps more importantly, he walked just two batters one start after issuing six free passes to the same team in Cincinnati.
"I just made a big adjustment from my last start. My last start wasn't ideal," O'Grady said. "I had a lot of walks, especially early on. So that was my focus point this week ... to limit the walks."
It was mostly smooth sailing for O'Grady, who utilized his craftiness. His fastball touched 89 mph but he lived off his cutter, which sat around 83-84 mph.
"He threw everything," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We're familiar with him, obviously. He commanded his fastball much better than he did in Cincinnati, and he was throwing his cutter and his changeup for strikes. We put some balls in play hard."
A lack of velocity means O'Grady knows he has to pitch to contact and let his defense make plays. That happened in the fifth, when Marcell Ozuna and Miguel Rojas teamed up on a relay throw to nab Joey Votto at the plate and keep it a 1-0 game in the Marlins' favor.
"Between him and Ozuna, that was amazing," O'Grady said. "That can make a difference between the game, because at the time it was only a 1-0 game and could be a tie game right there and then I'm still out there pitching that inning and you never know what's gonna happen."
O'Grady hadn't pitched into the seventh inning this year but it didn't show Thursday. He sat down the side in order in the sixth and seventh frames, needing just 19 total pitches.
"I kind of got into a rhythm there in the last few innings and just started pounding the strike zone a little bit more," he said. "And that opened up all my breaking stuff out of the zone that got a lot of popups and ground balls."
Because Miami's starting pitching has taken its lumps this season, O'Grady's outing was a welcome sign.
Before Adam Conley twirled seven shutout innings against the Rangers on Monday, the last Marlins starter to finish with seven or more scoreless innings was Edinson Volquez in a 7-1 win at Pittsburgh on June 8.
O'Grady is set on not letting this outing become an outlier.
"[My confidence is] very high," O'Grady said. "After last week, I just wanted to come back and have a solid start. It gives me a lot more confidence going into my next couple of starts."
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.