SAN DIEGO Dan Straily’s bullpen sessions prior to a start aren’t typically a pretty sight.
“[If you saw them] you’d wonder if I should be starting the game,” Straily said. “They’re all terrible. I’ve learned I’m just getting loose out there. I never really read into it.”
Straily said his bullpen tosses before Saturday night’s game at Petco Park were “all over the place like normal.”
Not long after he took the mound, however, Straily barely missed the strike zone.
Straily delivered what he called likely the best start of his career, finishing with a career-best 14 strikeouts in a game the Marlins won 6-3 in 11 innings.
“When you get to the mound, it’s just a different level of focus and different level of concentration,” Straily said. “You just go out there and get the job done.”
Straily threw just 97 pitches and became only the third pitcher, according to MLB.com, to record 14 strikeouts in a game while throwing less than 100 pitches, joining Javier Vazquez (2003) and Stephen Strasburg (2010). Straily’s 73 pitches for strikes was also a career high.
“It’s really up there [among my best starts],” Straily said. “Any time you go deep into a tight ball game, you kind of feed off the momentum out there. In terms of stuff, it might have been one of the better games of my career.”
Straily’s strikeout total was the most by a Marlin since Jose Fernandez also had 14 on Sept. 9 of last season against the Dodgers.
Straily also became only the second pitcher, along with Fernandez, to strike out that many batters without a walk. In his previous start against the Mets at home, Straily walked five but carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Straily really hit his stride after giving up a two-run homer in the fourth to Austin Hedges. Straily retired the next 11 batters, striking out nine of them and at one point striking out eight in a row.
In four starts this season, Straily (1-1, 3.92 ERA) has gone from an outing in Washington where he lasted only 3 1/3 innings and had no strikeouts to Saturday night’s career-best performance.
He credits developing in-game chemistry with catcher J.T. Realmuto in his first season with the Marlins as a big reason for the quick improvement.
“The first game [in Washington] was just the second time I had thrown to [Realmuto],” Straily said. “He has a really good feel for what I’m trying to do. There were times I was just following him [Saturday] and he had me guessing as to what I’m going to throw. If he had me guessing, you can imagine how he had the hitters doing it.”
Miguel Rojas started Saturday night’s game at shortstop but exited in the sixth with tightness behind both knees.
Rojas said he started to feel the discomfort after his first at-bat in the third inning yet still managed to make a great defensive stop on a ground ball to end the bottom half of the inning.
Rojas was held out Sunday and hopes after the Marlins’ off day on Monday that he will be ready to play Tuesday when they begin a series in Philadelphia.
▪ Monday: Off.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-0, 3.94 ERA) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (0-2, 7.20), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.