MIAMI -- When matched against an ace, there is less margin for error. Jose Urena learned that again on Monday night during the Marlins' 4-2 loss to the Mets at Marlins Park.As Miami's No. 1 starter, Urena is finding himself lined up with the best his opponents have to offer.
MIAMI -- When matched against an ace, there is less margin for error. Jose Urena learned that again on Monday night during the Marlins' 4-2 loss to the Mets at Marlins Park.
As Miami's No. 1 starter, Urena is finding himself lined up with the best his opponents have to offer. It was more of the same on Monday, as he drew Noah Syndergaard. In Urena's first two starts, he was matched against All-Stars Jonathan Lester of the Cubs on Opening Day, and Chris Sale of the Red Sox.
Urena has kept his team in the game for the most part, and at times has gone toe-to-toe with his opponent, but in each of his three starts, he has allowed at least one run in either the first or second innings.
"I feel sometimes I'm like too loose, trying to get a feeling and get a tempo," Urena said. "I have to be ready to go."
The Mets took a two-run lead in the second inning, with one run scoring on an Adrian Gonzalez single, and the second on Kevin Plawecki's double-play grounder. Before Syndergaard allowed a baserunner (which came on Braxton Lee's single in the third inning), Miami was trailing by three runs.
"It's something we'll continue to work with," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I don't think he's doing anything wrong necessarily, we've got to be ready to go in the first. That's always been tough for pitchers, that first inning and getting used to the mound. We just keep working to smooth that out."
The Marlins came to within 3-2 on Brian Anderson's RBI double in the sixth inning, but the Mets responded with an unearned run in the seventh. First baseman Justin Bour, on pinch-hitter Brandon Nimmo's grounder, threw wildly to second base to set up the Mets' fourth run. Bour also went 0-for-4 at the plate.
"I've been through offensive struggles before, so that's one thing," Bour said. "The play on defense, the tailor-made ground ball, and then throwing that away, that just can't happen, trying to get two before getting the first out. Then, we're talking about a different game. We're talking about a one-run game, instead of a two-run game, which it ended up being after that. That one is on me."
Still, the club was in an uphill climb for Urena's third consecutive start. Urena worked five innings on Monday, allowing three runs and striking out four. He got more effective as the game progressed, and he went more to his slider. Of his 80 pitches, 26 were sliders.
"It's obvious, he's using it more," Mattingly said. "That's the thing we talk about: continue to use it. Obviously he's a power guy, but the counts he got hurt on are the counts where he has to throw a strike. The Gonzo at-bat, when he's 3-2, he's got to throw a strike."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Scratching til the end: Even down two and facing Jeurys Familia, the Marlins had a chance. They were one hit away from potentially tying or winning in walk-off fashion in the ninth inning. John Holaday led off with a single, and Derek Dietrich connected for a one-out double. Just when it seemed Miami had momentum on its side, Familia rebounded to strike out Miguel Rojas and Starlin Castro for his fifth save.
"We hang in there, and we start throwing some hits out," Mattingly said. "We're able to scratch a run, scratch another one, and we're in the ballgame. Again, I think our guys are battling to have an approach and stick with it."
Run at your own risk: Testing the arm of Yoenis Cespedes didn't turn out to be a wise move for Marlins rookie Braxton Lee. With the Mets up 3-0 and Syndergaard retiring the first six batters he faced, Lee laced a single to left-center. A speedster, Lee charged out of the box and didn't hesitate in trying to stretch the single to a double, but Cespedes made a strong throw to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to get Lee out easily, denying Miami a leadoff runner in scoring position.
"That's a tough one, because he's a guy who can fly," Mattingly said. "We want him to be aggressive, and we want him to be on the attack. Obviously, you've got to know that Cespedes has got a cannon out there. He made a really good play. He had to basically make a perfect play to get him. So it's hard to really question that. You can question any time it doesn't work, you can say things. I think I like the aggressiveness of that, maybe he has a better understanding of Cespedes or the score, we're down three at that point, but I like the aggressiveness."
"Still in the game, no matter what. That's why you can't let things get to you. You have to be ready for your next AB, your next pitch, whatever it is. This one was on me, move on to tomorrow."
-- Bour, on recovering quickly from the throwing error
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dietrich has hit safely in five consecutive games. He had three hits, one RBI and a double, and was hit by a pitch on Monday.
Left-hander Caleb Smith looks to bounce back after a rough three-inning outing, giving up three runs at Philadelphia his last time out. Smith that day struggled with the cold and windy conditions against the Phillies. He is looking for an outing more in line with his first one of the season, one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Cubs at home. Smith starts the 7:10 p.m. ET game on Tuesday against the Mets. Bour is 6-for-12 with a home run and a double in his career against deGrom.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.