MIAMI -- Marlins left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen is all smiles when his spot in the rotation comes up at Marlins Park. Such was the case on Saturday, when Chen handcuffed Toronto on three hits and one run over a career-high-tying eight innings of the Marlins' 6-3 victory.
Chen lowered his ERA to 1.77 (71 IP/14 ER) over 12 home starts, as opposed to his 9.35 ERA in 10 road starts. He retired 14 Blue Jays in a row after giving up a leadoff double in the fourth before yielding a two-out single in the eighth. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
"He was sharp all night, pitch-count down, ahead in the count, quick innings it seemed like. He's been really good for a while now," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. "It's good to see that confidence in him. We're seeing a guy that we thought we had a couple of years back before all this elbow stuff went down."
Chen threw 107 pitches (74 strikes), and he has now thrown at least that many pitches in three of his last four starts. Being healthy is the key.
"I probably feel the best over the last two or three years. My shoulder and my elbow feel fine," said Chen, who added that doing his pregame work has also gone hand-in-hand with his recent success. "I've been trying to study hitters, watch videos, and talk to [catcher J.T. Realmuto] a lot. I do the homework day in and day out and I think that helps me execute the pitch during the game."
A four-run fifth inning blew the game open.
Marlins cleanup hitter Brian Anderson came up twice with the bases loaded and produced an RBI each time. Miami's third baseman narrowly missed a first-inning grand slam. His long fly ball to right field with the bases loaded was caught on a leaping stab by Randal Grichuk at the fence. Anderson settled for a sacrifice fly, plating JT Riddle.
It was Anderson's team-high 15th go-ahead RBI of the season.
He walked with the bases loaded in that fateful fifth inning before Martin Prado, in his first game back from the DL, delivered a clutch three-run double to deep left-center field, lifting the Marlins to a 6-1 lead.
Prado played first base and was happy to be able to contribute once again to the team.
"I was glad to hit it in the air, I didn't want to hit a ground ball for a double play," Prado said. "It was huge, personally and for the team. Anytime you get to contribute to win a game at this level it's a good feeling. Those three runs ended up being big runs. It was a good team win."
They ended up being the difference in the game after Marlins reliever Tayron Guerrero gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to Justin Smoak, whose grand slam on Friday won the series opener for the Blue Jays.
In between Anderson's key at-bats, Realmuto blasted a solo homer with one out in the third inning. His single-season career-high 18th roundtripper of the season measured 411 feet, according to Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 102.2 mph and a 28-degree launch angle.
Realmuto's homer may not have proven to be the decisive blow in this game, but the Marlins are now 12-4 when their veteran catcher goes yard.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Marlins right fielder Magneuris Sierra came to the Marlins from St. Louis in the Marcell Ozuna deal in December. His outstanding speed was a main attraction, and it was on display Saturday. The left-handed-hitting Sierra beat out a bunt in the second inning with a burst of speed clocked by Statcast™ at 3.43 seconds from home to first. That's the fastest home-to-first time (base hit or otherwise) tracked this year. His sprint speed on that run topped out at 30.6 feet/second.
HE SAID IT
"I hope it starts a winning streak. We're going to be playing teams that are contending for the postseason." -- Prado, following his clutch three-run double
Right-handed pitcher Jeff Brigham makes his Major League debut on Sunday as the Marlins close out the three-game series with Toronto at 1:10 p.m. ET. Brigham was called up from Triple-A New Orleans on Saturday when Pablo Lopez was sent to the 60-day DL with a right shoulder strain. He will be opposed by Blue Jays right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, who is looking for his first win of the season (0-2, 8.68 ERA).