Jacob Turner was having such trouble throwing the ball over the plate in spring training that the Marlins made him begin the season in the minors to iron out the kinks.
Talk about a transformation.
Turner was not only pinpoint accurate in the Marlins’ 7-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night, but he recorded his first major-league complete game — and the first of the season by a Marlins pitcher.
“That’s how you do it, Red!” the normally reserved Turner, overjoyed with his own performance, belted out to manager Mike Redmond after the victory.
Said Redmond, who was amused by the unexpected outburst from the 22-year-old: “I laughed. [I said], ‘You’re right.’ I wasn’t expecting that out of him, but I loved it.”
The Marlins have plenty of reasons to feel better about themselves.
They already have won as many games in June — 14 — as they did in the first two months of the season put together.
And in players like Turner, they have reason for hope. Turner is the future, part of a young rotation that is within a Ricky Nolasco trade of being 100 percent different than it was at this time a year ago.
“I think it’s exciting,” Redmond said. “You’re starting to see the rotation and how good these guys are. And they’re young, and they’ve got great stuff, and they’re getting big-time experience in the majors.”
It’s just that Turner wasn’t up in the majors, as most expected, when the season started. His performance in spring training was so shaky that the Marlins decided he would be better served working out his issues at Triple A. Turned out to be a smart decision.
He hasn’t looked like the same pitcher since his call-up in late May.
“This is a different guy — a totally different guy — than we saw in spring training,” Redmond said. “Wow. This guy’s come back to the big leagues and just been outstanding.”
Turner has gone 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA in six starts.
“I’ve always been able to pound the strike zone; that’s been my biggest strength, and it was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to do that in spring training,” Turner said. “But I think it made me a better pitcher to go down to Triple A and get all those things worked out.”
Turner threw 111 pitches Saturday, 77 for strikes.
He gave up seven hits and didn’t issue a walk until Carlos Quentin reached on a free pass to lead off the ninth. But Turner retired Chase Headley on a fly ball, struck out Kyle Blanks and got Will Venable to bounce out to finish it off.
Redmond said he would have lifted Turner had he not ended the game by getting Venable.
“I probably didn’t have my best command in the ninth inning but was able to get through it,” Turner said. “Once I walked the first guy, I knew if somebody else got on, I was probably done.”
Turner was the beneficiary of some early run support, as well. The Marlins finally managed to score on Padres pitching.
After scoring only three runs combined in four games — all losses — against San Diego this season, the Marlins rang up a half-dozen off Padres starter Eric Stults.
Marcell Ozuna drove in a run in the Marlins’ three-run first inning, Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis had RBI hits in the fourth, and Giancarlo Stanton hit his eighth home run, ending a nine-game power drought, in the seventh.
Placido Polanco also scored his 1,000th career run in the fourth inning.
But the game belonged to Turner.
“I definitely wanted to finish the game,” he said. “I was glad they let me stay out there.”