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Dominant Urena starts combined two-hitter

July 29, 2018

MIAMI -- Jose Urena hadn't won a game at Marlins Park since Sept. 20, 2017 -- the longest stretch of home starts without a win in Marlins franchise history. On Sunday, that streak came to an end in emphatic fashion.The right-hander tossed six stellar innings, allowing just one hit and

MIAMI -- Jose Urena hadn't won a game at Marlins Park since Sept. 20, 2017 -- the longest stretch of home starts without a win in Marlins franchise history. On Sunday, that streak came to an end in emphatic fashion.
The right-hander tossed six stellar innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five in the Marlins' 5-0 victory over the Nationals. Miami split the four-game weekend series by winning the final two contests, and the club has not lost a home series since June 25-28 against Arizona -- a span of six series.
"It was good," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He was good from the beginning. He had good stuff today. ... We got to see the old Jose today."
Relievers Adam Conley, Brad Ziegler and Drew Steckenrider followed Urena to combine on the two-hitter. With rumors surrounding Miami pitchers prior to Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Urena ensured that he can still be relied upon at the top of this club's rotation.

It had been a span of 14 home starts since Urena had secured a win, and of late, the Marlins' right-hander has struggled. In his last two outings, Urena surrendered 10 runs in just eight innings. Urena went on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement after his June 20 start at San Francisco. Before Sunday, the Marlins checked with him to make sure he was completely healthy.
"Since San Francisco and being on the DL and coming back, he hasn't been as aggressive," Mattingly said. "So we wanted to make sure that he felt healthy. We wanted to make sure that he stayed on the aggressive side."
In 13 home starts entering Sunday, Urena was 0-8 with a 4.65 ERA. The right-hander hadn't secured a victory -- regardless of location -- since June 15 at Baltimore. In the series finale, he proved he still has No. 1 stuff.
"That was the thing we were talking about, how I was attacking the hitters," Urena said, pinpointing a change in his game plan on the mound as the catalyst for such a good outing. "Sometimes I would make the pitches and wasn't as aggressive as I could be."

Yes, Urena was still a bit erratic with his command, something he has struggled with all season. Despite the four walks and hit batter, however, the right-hander had good lateral movement on his fastball and lit up the radar gun, with a max velocity of 97.2 mph.
Not only was Urena lights out on the mound, but he also contributed at the plate.
After back-to-back singles from Miguel Rojas and Magneuris Sierra put runners on first and third in the second inning, Urena flipped a first-pitch fastball from Jeremy Hellickson for a two-out RBI. It was just his second base hit and his first RBI of the season.

All five of Miami's runs came with two outs, including two driven in by Martin Prado.
In the third, Prado got a hold of a 1-2 fastball from Hellickson, driving a double into the left-center-field gap, just far enough to evade the outstretched glove of Bryce Harper. Statcast™ had his double at 383 feet and 99.7 mph off the bat.

In a three-run fifth, Prado laced an opposite-field single, the final blow that knocked Hellickson out of the game. Brian Anderson, who was on base three times in the victory, came around to score on both of Prado's RBIs.
"The mentality was not letting those first two games affect us," Prado said. "It was good that we got those runs with two outs because that built the confidence for us moving forward. All around, good team win."

Prado has been swinging a hot bat of late, with hits in six of his last seven games. During that stretch, the third baseman is slashing .357 (10-28) with four doubles and four RBIs.
"To me, those hits were huge because we were able to keep adding on," Mattingly said. "Next thing you know, you've got a lead. You've got a cushion. The pitchers don't have quite the stress. You can't make one mistake and it costs you."

Urena, who made his team-leading 21st start of the season, entered with the lowest run support average (2.72) of any starter in the Majors (min. 15 GS).
The right-hander's 14 straight starts without a win at Marlins Park broke the previous record for most winless starts at home held by Anibal Sanchez, who made 13 consecutive home starts without a win from June 20, 2011 to May 24, 2012.
Phenom Juan Soto led off the fourth with a walk and proceeded to steal second base. He was forced to return to first, however, after Mark Reynolds was called for interference on a swing and miss.
Soto wasn't done. In the next at-bat with Spencer Kieboom in the box, the rookie took off again and this time, J.T. Realmuto showed off his skills behind the plate, cutting him down with a perfect throw.
According to Statcast™, Realmuto's pop time was 1.94 seconds and the velocity of his throw was 84.6 mph. Neither was his best of the season but made for the perfect combination to nag a speedy runner trying to steal.

"Again, we've been playing pretty good ball. The Nationals really have been a thorn in our side. We weren't getting any kind of momentum off them. We have been winning our share of series and moving forward all the time. We got kind of derailed in D.C. but bounced back from that. It looks like they're going to derail us again, and the guys bounce back two games in a row." -- Mattingly, on splitting with Washington after losing by a combined 19-4 margin in the first two games of the series
Wei-Yin Chen takes the ball on Monday as the Marlins head to Atlanta for a three-game series with the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET. While the southpaw has been lights out at home this season (2.18 ERA), Chen has struggled away from Marlins Park (10.47 ERA). The left-hander will look to build on his last appearance against Atlanta last Tuesday, when he went six innings and earned the win. Julio Teheran goes for the Braves.

Max Goodman is a reporter for based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Goodman97.