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Marlins strike early; Smith sharp to open trip

May 28, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- Striking out to open the game may not seem like the ideal way to start a rally, but it strangely did on Monday afternoon as Miguel Rojas exhausted 11 pitches from left-hander Eric Lauer .From there, the rest of the order did significant damage, scoring four times

SAN DIEGO -- Striking out to open the game may not seem like the ideal way to start a rally, but it strangely did on Monday afternoon as Miguel Rojas exhausted 11 pitches from left-hander Eric Lauer .
From there, the rest of the order did significant damage, scoring four times in the first to support Caleb Smith, who went seven innings, as the Marlins didn't look back in a 7-2 win over the Padres at Petco Park.
After being swept by the Nationals over the weekend at Marlins Park, the Marlins showed no signs of jet lag after traveling cross country, as they set the tone with their big first inning.
"It was just a great at-bat to start the game," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Rojas. "It forces him into a deep count right away. We were able to put some hits with that and really push his count up. We did a nice job with that, and then able to scratch late with a couple of more runs."

The Padres are just the third team this season the Marlins faced with a losing record, and the club took care of business in the series opener. But to start showing signs of improvement, Rojas says Miami must step up against tough competition.
"We have to start playing better against teams that are in the hunt," Rojas said. "That's what is going to take us to another level. If we're going to play good baseball against teams that are in the bottom of their divisions, we're just going to be OK. If we want to take it to the next step, we have to start playing better, like we did against the Mets."

Cameron Maybin, a former Padre, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Yadiel Rivera added a two-run single.
Mattingly gave catcher J.T. Realmuto the day off and shuffled the lineup to have Brian Anderson batting second. Anderson got the inning started with a one-out double, the first of five straight hits. Starlin Castro knocked an RBI single, and after Justin Bour doubled, Maybin produced a run-scoring hit and Rivera delivered a two-run single.

Rivera made a rare start, and he came through with a hit to break open the big inning.
"I let Maybin steal second and I got a good situation to bring in two runs," Rivera said. "Put a good swing on a good pitch, and I got it. We got two runs."
On the Rivera single, there was a scare as the liner deflected off Lauer's glove, close to the left-hander's face.

The Marlins chased Lauer after 2 1/3 innings, scoring five times off him.
Given the early lead, Smith kept the Padres in check. He allowed a second-inning home run to Franmil Reyes , but he was able to make it through seven-plus innings without any additional damage. Working into the eighth for the first time in his career, Smith limited the Padres to one run on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
"That's a huge confidence booster," Smith said of pitching with the early lead. "It gives me a little breathing room. Things went well today."

Scoring runs has been difficult for the Marlins, especially in their last four games before heading to San Diego. In successive days, they faced Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and Stephen Strasburg. But after getting four runs in the first inning, Miami got a big bounce-back run in the third on Maybin's RBI single. Castro, who doubled to start the inning, scored. The run came after Reyes' home run in the second.
"We have to understand, we faced deGrom, Scherzer, Roark and Strasburg four days in a row," Rojas said. "It's really hard to catch a break like that. I feel like this team has been showing we're ready to take the next step. I feel from now on, we have to start playing better."

It marked the first time since Sept. 25, 2015, against the Braves that the Marlins have strung together five consecutive first-inning hits.

Further tests revealed third baseman Martin Prado sustained a mild left hamstring strain. According to Mattingly, Prado will miss at least one month, but the team expects him to return this season. The 34-year-old went on the disabled list on Saturday, a day after he aggravated the same hamstring that sidelined him last year and at the beginning of this season. ... Outfielder Garrett Cooper (right wrist contusion) continues his hitting and fielding progression.
"That's something I don't want to be part of. I'm glad that he got out of the way. I saw after I hit it, he got back, the ball was going right at his face. I'm glad he got out of the way. I saw on the replay, it was going right at his face, and he got out of the way at the last second, and it hit the glove. Thankfully, he got out of the way." -- Rivera, on his two-run single in the first inning that nearly struck Lauer in the face but deflected off his glove
The last time Dan Straily faced the Padres at Petco Park, he fanned a career-high 14 batters on April 22, 2017. Straily takes the mound at 10:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, with the Padres countering with Tyson Ross. Per Inside Edge, right-handed batters have a .100 BABIP off Straily in the last 30 days. That's the lowest mark among Major Leaguers with at least 12 innings pitched.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.