MIAMI -- September is an opportunity for the Marlins to get some answers regarding their young players. One thing the organization is looking to find out is if rookie right-hander Jeff Brigham projects as a future starter or a reliever.In the first inning on Thursday night, Brigham flashed why he
MIAMI -- September is an opportunity for the Marlins to get some answers regarding their young players. One thing the organization is looking to find out is if rookie right-hander Jeff Brigham projects as a future starter or a reliever.
In the first inning on Thursday night, Brigham flashed why he has a chance to land in the rotation. He struck out two in a clean inning, with his fastball reaching 95 mph. But bouts of wildness also have been a concern, and that showed when he walked two in the third inning, and both scored on Scooter Gennett's two-out, two-run double.
Gennett struck again in the seventh inning with a two-run homer off Elieser Hernandez, and the Reds held off the Marlins, 4-2, in the four-game series opener at Marlins Park.
"I think for him, he's got the pitches," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Brigham. "It's a matter, obviously, that you still have got to command. We've seen, when he's throwing strikes and is able to use his pitches, he's getting the ball to both sides of the plate. He's got a good breaking ball. Threw a few changeups. It's a matter of having the weapons, but then you've got to get consistent with location, and using your mix."
After falling behind by four runs, Miami chipped away at the lead in the eighth inning on J.T. Realmuto's RBI double and Peter O'Brien's run-scoring single.
"The boys hung in there," Mattingly said. "We got it going late. It didn't seem like we had anything going early. When we did, we had some double play balls. It seemed like we kind of hurt ourselves. Hurt our rallies."
Miami has lost seven of nine, and it has three more games with the Reds to close out the home portion of the 2018 season.
Brigham made his third big league start since being promoted from Triple-A New Orleans. The 26-year-old worked a career-high five innings, scattering three hits and allowing two runs. His six strikeouts were a career high, but he also walked four.
"I think I've learned a lot again in this start," Brigham said. "Every start is a step forward. I'm disappointed to be that far out of the zone in the second and third innings. My success comes when I'm really attacking the zone."
The first inning was an indicator that Brigham can have a role in the future. He struck out Scott Schebler and Joey Votto swinging.
"I came out firing strong," Brigham said. "But I kind of lost a little bit of focus, came out of my mechanics and stretch. I kind of lost the ball up and away a lot, and had to regain focus to get back out of the fourth and fifth innings."
The way Reds lefty Cody Reed was throwing, the Marlins weren't able to manufacture much. When they did, they were hurt by double plays. In the first inning, Miami had a first-and-third situation, but couldn't score.
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In the sixth inning, the Marlins threatened with leadoff singles from Starlin Castro and Realmuto. But O'Brien bounced into a 5-4-3 double play.
It was more of the same in the seventh inning, when Rafael Ortega tapped into a 6-4-3 double play.
Reed worked six innings, striking out six, without issuing a walk.
Gennett, on the heels of Milwaukee's Christian Yelich for the National League batting title, had the two big hits, and he finished the game hitting .318. Yelich, who had the night off, is at .319.
"Scooter, he's a great hitter, and I'm OK with getting beat," Brigham said. "I'm going to give up hits in the big leagues. But the things that really hurt me were the two walks before, and those are the runs that scored. The hits are hits. But the walks, that's when I got hurt."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Miami's offense missed scoring chances early, and had their opportunities late. After scoring two in the eighth, they had chances in the ninth off Raisel Iglesias. Ortega and pinch-hitter Brian Anderson each walked, putting the tying runs on base. Miguel Rojas smacked a hard grounder that appeared to be headed to right field, but Gennett made a terrific diving stop and completed the throw to first for the final out. Had the ball gotten through, one run would have scored and Miami would have had two on for Realmuto.
"A lot happened in the last inning," Castro said. "Gennett made a great play. Everybody is going out there trying to compete and having a good at-bat."
Realmuto had an RBI double in the eighth inning, giving the All-Star catcher 52 extra-base hits on the season. That ties his career high, first done in 2017.
HE SAID IT
"It's really important. We're coming out here every day trying to finish strong. That's the mentality that we all have here. I know it's been a tough season, but we continue to play hard, and try to finish strong, and keep it up." -- Castro
Wei-Yin Chen, who has sported a 1.77 ERA at Marlins Park, makes his final home start of the season Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Reds. Cincinnati is going with former Marlins prospect, right-hander Luis Castillo.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.