Smith's start vs. Braves marred by homers

Left-hander K's 7 while collecting first two career extra-base hits at plate

August 22nd, 2019

ATLANTA -- A couple of doubles by Caleb Smith enabled him to accomplish something that no Marlins pitcher has in the past 17 seasons. But two costly long balls that he surrendered foiled the night for the left-hander, and resulted in Miami’s misery to continue.

Adeiny Hechavarria and Ronald Acuna Jr. each belted two-run home runs and the Braves, with just three total hits, blanked the Marlins’ 5-0 on Wednesday at SunTrust Park.

The Marlins' losing streak has reached five straight, all on the current road trip, and they have lost 11 consecutive road games.

The two doubles by Smith make him just the fourth pitcher in Marlins history to have a pair of two base hits in the same game. The last to do so was A.J. Burnett on May 5, 2002, against the Brewers.

“I take a lot of pride in my offense,” Smith said. “But we've got to pitch well to hit. I take a lot of pride in that.”

The doubles marked his first two career extra-base hits. 

“He's getting better,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, and then joked, “I guess he's tired of me getting on him.”

Although he pitches left-handed, Smith hits from the right side, where he went 2-for-2 on Wednesday.

“Smitty probably swung the bat as good as anybody,” Mattingly said. 

 The Marlins were blanked for the 18th time this year, and scored one run in the first two games of the series. 

Julio Teheran threw seven shutout innings, striking out nine, and continued his season-long dominance over Miami. The Braves' right-hander improved to 3-0 with a 0.28 ERA (one run in 32 innings) in five starts. 

For Smith, it was a mixed night. The southpaw worked six innings, allowing just three hits -- two of which were homers -- as he walked four to go along with seven strikeouts.

“I had four walks, and [two] of them scored,” Smith said. “That basically sums it up right there.”

Acuna homered for the ninth time this year against Miami, and it came after Hechavarria walked earlier in the fifth.

"This is a game of confidence and how you feel," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I’m sure [Acuna] feels confident. That’s some good arms he’s hit this year too. But you have those teams that nobody can explain. You just kind of try to ride the crest and enjoy it."

Along with making an impact at the plate, Smith turned in his longest start since going seven innings in a win over the D-backs on July 29. In his first three starts of August, he didn’t make it further than the fifth inning. 

Formerly a member of the Yankees’ organization, Smith didn’t have to concentrate much on his hitting. 

Now in his second season with the Marlins, Smith has made strides at the plate, entering the night hitting .226 (7-for-31). For his career, he was 10-for-53 (.189). 

With Miami struggling for offense in the first two games of the series, Smith gave his team a chance to score in the third inning with a leadoff double to left, a blistered liner that had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph. But he wasn’t able to advance as far as third. 

And in the fifth inning, Smith laced a liner to right. Again, he wasn’t able to advance. 

“It makes it a little bit easier whenever you can help yourself out,” Smith said. “I just have to make better pitches, get deeper into games and throw up some zeros.”