JUPITER -- The Miami Marlins played visitor to a one-sided home run derby at Roger Dean Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, falling 7-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Vying for the final spot in the Marlins rotation, Tom Koehler pitched his first start of the spring. Through 2 2/3 innings, the right-hander allowed seven hits in the effort, including two home runs, leaving his fastball and his change up high.
“It could be the Cardinals or the Sandusky Ohio Little League, you leave the ball up and they’re going to hit you,” Koehler said. “Unfortunately, they were some big hits.”
The Marlins pitching staff allowed seven runs, all of them on long balls, some of them significantly longer than others.
Ryan Webb gave up back-to-back home runs to St. Louis’ Matt Adams and Rob Johnson in the eighth inning. The pair of homers sailed far beyond the outfield walls, stopping at the patio and Burger Bar signs, respectively.
“We continue to get balls up in the zone. We’ve talked all spring about pounding the strike zone down,” a frustrated Mike Redmond said. “Not all of us are able to do it.”
Austin Barnes, pinch hitting for catcher Kyle Skipworth, was the sole response to the long shot affair for Miami, hitting a two-out homer in the seventh.
Reliever Kevin Slowey provided a bright spot for the pitchers, working 2 2/3 innings, striking out two and keeping his frames clear of any scoring.
“Hopefully some of those guys get a chance to watch [Slowey] and watch how a guy who doesn’t throw 95 goes in there and hits the spots and gets outs,” Redmond said.
“I’m looking for a guy to go in there and pitch. Ninety-five doesn’t do you a whole lot of good when it’s at your belt and guys are teeing you up.”
Koehler had allowed just three hits prior to his start, with a 2.08 ERA through 4 1/3 innings.
Continuing his tear through the spring, Christian Yelich hit a long double off the wall in right field.
The prospect’s average entering play (.467) was good enough to tie for eighth with Paul Goldschmidt among all major leaguers (min. 15 AB).
He’s sitting fifth in the Majors with .933 slugging percentage and .556 on-base percentage.
This and that
• There’s nothing wrong with making your first hit of the spring a memorable one. Bryan Peterson lifted the Marlins to a walk-off victory over the Venezuelan team on Tuesday with his two-run triple in the ninth.
“It was just cool. I envy all those dudes who can go out and play for their country,” he said. “That’s a really good team, all of the hitters, the pitchers; it’s obviously good competition for us.”
• Jose Fernandez has a contagious confidence about him. In Tuesday night’s showcase against Team Venezuela, it was an asset against a lineup that closely resembles a stacked fantasy team.
“It was big. I was kind of nervous out there,” the 20-year-old prospect said.
Venezuela’s talent-rich roster stopped in Jupiter before heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to begin Pool C play in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Fernandez faced one of his closest friends in the Miami clubhouse, Henderson Alvarez, in the Marlins’ 6-5 victory over Venezuela on Tuesday night.
“It was fun because he threw the third inning, I threw the fourth. In the fifth inning we ran together back [to the clubhouse],” Fernandez said.
• Alfredo Silverio has been shut down. During a long tossing session, the outfield prospect felt discomfort in his elbow. Silverio had Tommy John surgery in 2012, further complications from a January 2012 car accident. There is no timeline for his return.
• Placido Polanco was a late scratch from the starting line up Wednesday. He was expected to return to play, but experienced discomfort in his oblique.
“He hit, he made throws, it’s smart not to push it,” Redmond said.
• Jake Marisnick was hit square in the left hand by a Trevor Rosenthal pitch in the fifth inning. Marisnick received attention from Redmond and the trainer on the field, but stayed on the basepaths. He was replaced by Gorkys Hernandez in the outfield.
He told reporters that his x-rays came back negative, and he will take it day-by-day. Redmond won’t send him on the bus to Port St. Lucie on Thursday.
• The battle for center field continues, and Redmond expects Chris Coghlin to play center field in Thursday’s game.