So far, the only things that Nate Eovaldi has seen of South Florida is the airport, the small room in the hotel where he’s staying, a bit of downtown Coconut Grove and Marlins Park.
The 22-year-old Texan is so new that he doesn’t even know the names of all his teammates on the Marlins.
“Still learning them,” Eovaldi said.
But, after winning his Marlins debut Saturday, he needs no introducing.
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Eovaldi, acquired Wednesday from the Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade, made himself right at home, picking up the win in the Marlins’ 4-2 victory over the Padres at Marlins Park.
“His stuff was electric,” said catcher John Buck, who was behind the plate. “His fastball jumped out of his hand. His location was good, not afraid to throw in on either side of the plate. He threw a cutter pretty good [Saturday], and this was only his second game throwing it. What I saw today was pretty nasty.”
Buck said that in his nine years of catching he’s encountered only one other pitcher who, when going over the scouting reports for opposing hitters, seemed to know exactly what he was doing.
“That was Zack Greinke,” Buck said. “For a young guy, that’s a big step.”
Eovaldi worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing a run on five hits, as the Marlins won for only the second time in their past 10 games. When the Padres got to him for a run in the sixth and put runners on second and third with one out, manager Ozzie Guillen decided to take him out.
“I didn’t want this kid pitching well and all of a sudden lose the game,” Guillen said. “I tried to protect the kid, make sure he goes out with his head up the next time he starts.”
Eovaldi touched 96 mph with his fastball, but also mixed in a slider, curve and cutter to keep the Padres at bay.
“He’s got a great arm,” Guillen said. “You can see he’s still a baby, still needs polish. But I love the arm. I love his presence on the mound. He’s not scared.”
And he received just enough run support to prevail.
By scoring four runs, the Marlins ended a nine-game stretch in which they had scored three runs or fewer — matching the longest such streak in the history of the franchise.
Jose Reyes hit a two-run homer in the third off Ross Ohlendorf, Justin Ruggiano added a solo shot in the seventh, and the Marlins ended their three-game losing streak.
“We did [Saturday] what we’ve been missing for a long time,” Guillen said. “We got big hits.”
Eovaldi worked his way out of trouble in the fourth when he hit the leadoff batter and walked the second. But, after receiving a mound visit by pitching coach Randy St. Claire, he retired the next three hitters to escape the jam.
“You can see a high ceiling with him,” St. Claire said of Eovaldi, who had gone 1-6 in 10 starts with the Dodgers before landing with the Marlins.
Said Eovaldi: “I didn’t feel any added pressure.”
While Eovaldi was making his Marlins debut, Jacob Turner was making his first appearance for the organization at Triple A New Orleans.
Turner, who was obtained in the Omar Infante/Anibal Sanchez deal with Detroit, also recorded a win. He went five innings, allowing a run on two hits in the start for the Zephyrs.