Three years ago starting pitcher Jacob Turner was the ninth overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. On Friday night, Marlins fans got to see why.
The recently acquired 21-year-old pitched seven scoreless innings — the best and longest game of his career — limiting the first-place Reds (87-58) to two hits in the Marlins’ 4-0 win.
“You keep the ball around the plate, you’re going to have a chance to pitch good games,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I think that’s what he did. The ball was moving very well, and the location was good.”
The Marlins (64-81) scored runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to take control of the game, and Turner (1-2) took care of the rest, ensuring that Miami broke its three-game slide and that he recorded his first victory as a Marlin.
It was just the third time the Reds had been shut out this season.
“I was aggressive early, trying to get ahead as much as I could,” Turner said. “If you’re behind and you give them too much, they’re going to take advantage of it.”
A two-run fifth inning came with a cost, though. Carlos Lee’s two-out single scored two runs, but he injured his neck on the play and is listed as day-to-day. Guillen said Lee felt better after the game and should be able to play Saturday.
The Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (12-8) was fortunate to have not given up more than a run.
In that inning, Justin Ruggiano doubled home Rob Brantly to break the scoreless tie. But with one out and runners on second and third, the heart of the Miami lineup could not produce anything more. Jose Reyes popped up, Giancarlo Stanton walked and Lee grounded out to shortstop.
Arroyo’s struggles continued into the next inning.
Greg Dobbs led off the fourth with a 374-foot home run to right field. It was his fifth home run of the season and gave the Marlins a two-run lead.
And in the fifth, it was redemption time for Lee.
With runners on first and second with two outs, Lee singled to center, enough to bring home Ruggiano. Trying to stretch his hit into a double, Lee was caught in a rundown. That was Reyes’ cue to sprint home, and by the time Lee was tagged out, the Marlins had a 4-0 lead.
Tagged on the cheek as he dove into second base, Lee lay on the ground, injured and left the game with a neck strain.
The Marlins went the rest of the game without getting a runner into scoring position, but they did not need any more runs.
Turner left the game after seven innings, a career high. He threw 101 pitches, striking out three and walking two. He has 20 strikeouts and has allowed only three walks over the past 29 1/3 innings.
Heath Bell and Steve Cishek came in for the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to finish the game.
It was Turner’s 10th career start and just his second at Marlins Park. The Missouri native was acquired by Miami in a July trade with the Detroit Tigers.
“We’re going to give this kid a chance to fail,” Guillen said of Turner. “Against a very powerful lineup he fought a good fight.”
Despite his success, Turner does still have one area he has to work on — hitting. Turner, who is hitless in his career, went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts, one of them in a sacrifice-bunt situation.