Yamamoto weathers storm to stay undefeated

Rookie goes five innings, survives rocky second, en route to fourth win

July 17th, 2019

MIAMI -- found himself in unfamiliar territory on Tuesday night -- having to handle a stressful inning. The rookie had to work through a 33-pitch second inning, during which he yielded three runs.

Once Yamamoto did, it was smooth sailing for the next three innings, while the Marlins broke through with a four-run second inning and held on for a 12-7 win over the Padres in the series opener at Marlins Park.

“It definitely was a little, I guess, eye-opening that I had to kick myself in the butt and say, 'Let's go,’” said Yamamoto, who improved to 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in six MLB starts.

Brian Anderson blasted a three-run home run, Garrett Cooper added a solo home run and three RBIs, delivered a three-run triple and had a two-run double.

The Marlins had a 14-hit attack, and they bounced back after dropping two of three to the Mets last weekend to open the homestand.

“We're not a team that is really going to hit a bunch of home runs, especially with this park and the guys that we have,” Anderson said. “Our guys did a really good job of getting good pitches that are out over the plate, pitches that our guys can handle and barrel, and just drive the ball.”

The Marlins struck for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings off left-hander Logan Allen.

Yamamoto has worked at least five innings in five of his six starts. The rookie continues to make a case that he should be in a fixture in the rotation, getting by with his ability to execute pitches while minimizing mistakes.

“A little rusty,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Yamamoto. “It was good to see him kind of bounce back in the fourth and fifth, and he started to look like himself again.”

Yamamoto made his first start since July 5, when he gave up no runs on two hits in a no-decision against the Braves.

Tuesday wasn’t his easiest outing, as Yamamoto was taxed for 52 pitches in his first two innings.

“The first inning went well,” Yamamoto said. “I thought things were going to be rolling. The second inning, they really hit me hard.”

By the time he exited following the fifth inning after 99 pitches, the rookie had preserved a four-run lead.

Since being promoted from Double-A Jacksonville and winning his first start on June 12 against the Cardinals, Yamamoto has found a way to keep hitters off stride. It was a bit more of a challenge on Tuesday, as he relied heavily on four-seam fastballs -- 61 of them. He had nine swinging strikes.

“He did a really good job of coming back from that rough [second] inning, and giving us five quality innings and keeping us in the game,” Anderson said. “Not blowing it there and not coming out in the second or third inning. Getting us through five and really helping the team right there.”

Yamamoto also had another first. It was the first time in six big league starts he yielded as many as four hits. His final line was three runs (two earned) on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

Yamamoto induced a key double-play grounder from Josh Naylor after the first two batters reached in the third inning.

“That double-play ball Josh hit, you look at one pitch that lets a guy off the hook,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “It happens all the time in a baseball game, guys take a deep breath, find their footing, get going. ... That double-play ball settled him in, and he located really well after that."

In each of his first five starts, Yamamoto hadn’t allowed more than three hits, including a string of four games in a row with two hits. Since 1900, Yamamoto is just the third pitcher to make his MLB debut with five straight starts allowing three or fewer hits. Padres rookie Chris Paddack, who faces the Marlins on Wednesday night, did it this season, and so did Tom Cheney (1957-59). According to Elias, Yamamoto is just the third starting pitcher in club history to open his career with a winning streak of four-plus decisions, joining Livan Hernandez (9-0 in 1997) and Anibal Sanchez (4-0 in 2006).

“The second inning, I couldn't get the offspeed working, the curveball, slider,” Yamamoto said. “The money makers in the first five outings. I couldn't really get it over. So from there, they were sitting fastball. They were hitting it.”

Anderson’s home run was the second longest by a Marlins player and the fourth furthest at Marlins Park this season. Per Statcast, the three-run drive to left was projected at 440 feet, with an exit velocity of 108.3 mph.

Jorge Alfaro has the longest drive by a Marlin this season at home, a 456-foot shot on May 17 against Jacob deGrom of the Mets. Tampa Bay’s Avisail Garcia has the deepest homer of the year in Miami at 471 feet off Caleb Smith on May 14. Pete Alonso of the Mets hit a home run 444 feet of Drew Steckenrider on April 1.

“It’s kind of funny, because I was kind of talking to Donnie about it today,” Anderson said. “I told him I was going to go to the plate with a two-strike approach, and then I hit the first pitch out. Baseball is a tough game. Just trying to be able to simplify it, make it a little easier for yourself. That’s kind of what we’re working towards as an offense, making sure that we’re on time and we’re ready to hit those mistakes.”