Chen sharp in first start as Marlins win

Left-hander hadn't pitched since September, backed by Prado, Dietrich

April 28th, 2018

MIAMI -- For going almost a year without making a big league start, didn't show any signs of rust on Saturday night. In fact, the left-hander was efficient and sharp in the Marlins' 4-1 victory over the Rockies at Marlins Park.
Chen allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings. He was backed by two RBIs from , as well as a solo home run and RBI single by , as the Marlins bounced back after falling 1-0 in the series opener on Friday night.
"This is kind of what our reports had been saying -- he'd been kind of clean, for the most part," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Chen's return. "It looked like he kind of ran out of gas a little bit, which was understandable."
Starting for the first time since May 1, 2017, Chen was on point in his 68-pitch outing, throwing 43 strikes.
"It's been a pretty long time since my last start," Chen said through his interpreter. "I haven't had this high of a pitch count or pitched this many innings. So when I went out there, I didn't want to think too much. I wanted to think of, 'How do I deal with this hitter and get this out?' I didn't want to think about anything else."

Through five innings, Chen was at 60 pitches and the lefty seemed in control. But things escalated quickly in the sixth inning, as he surrendered a home run to Charlie Blackmon to open the frame. doubled and with one out, 's single put runners on the corners. The Marlins went to their bullpen, going with right-hander Nick Wittgren, who got out of the jam to preserve a 3-1 Miami lead.
Chen continued an impressive run by Marlins starters. In their last six starts, the rotation has a combined 1.57 ERA over 34 1/3 innings.
"When your [starting] pitching has been able to do what they've been doing, then we're getting deeper into games and using our relievers when we need to, and not using them every day," Mattingly said. "It's just a lot better chance to win a game."
The Marlins got a first-inning lead off right-hander . Prado was credited with an RBI on a fielder's choice grounder. Prado added an RBI double in the third inning.

"I couldn't be more happy, just to be able to test it," said Prado, who came off the disabled list on Friday after being out with a left hamstring strain. "I didn't get [that] many plays on rehab. To be here and be able to show all my teammates I'm healthy and I'm here not just for show. I'm here to show them I have respect for them. Just to be able to contribute and help win a game is huge for me."
Dietrich's home run in the seventh inning came off former Marlins reliever Mike Dunn. According to Statcast™, the home run was projected at 393 feet with an exit speed of 106.2 mph.

"That run was big, and really trying to score there in the eighth," Mattingly said. "It was an exciting night."
worked the ninth in place of , and logged his first save of the season and second of his career.
With Ziegler not feeling 100 percent ready after making two straight appearances at the Dodgers, Barraclough was called upon for his first save chance of the season. Barraclough locked down the ninth, striking out three, while hitting one batter. Mattingly said Barraclough is not taking over as closer.

"Zieg was just not at 100 percent today," Mattingly said. "He had pitched two in a row out in L.A. He had the day off [Thursday]. We had him up [Friday], and he just wasn't 100 percent. He could have went, but I don't like doing that. Claw was good. I trust all those guys out there. Tonight, it was just a matter of not being 100 percent."
Marlins starters have allowed two or fewer runs in six straight starts, and one or less in five in a row, with 39 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings.
had a quick seventh inning, retiring the side on eight pitches, with six strikes. The hard-throwing right-hander fanned pinch-hitter on a 100.5 mph fastball.

"It was an exciting night. It was fun. The energy was unbelievable tonight. I know it was Puerto Rico [Heritage Night]. It seems like, when we have the Latin nights, it's so much fun because it just gets crazy. It's a lot of fun just having that energy in the building. That was fun tonight." -- Mattingly, on the crowd on Puerto Rican Heritage night
The Marlins close out the series on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET with lefty (0-3, 5.82) on the mound. The Rockies are going with right-hander (3-0, 2.40). This is Smith's first appearance against the Rockies.