The last time Jose Ureña was on the mound for the Marlins, his fine performance went largely unnoticed. That’s because the other pitcher that day, the Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez, nearly tossed a no-hitter in a 1-0 thriller last Monday.
There was no one to overshadow Ureña on Sunday though.
Ureña dazzled on a sunny afternoon at SunTrust Park, becoming the Marlins’ first 10-game winner this season in Miami’s 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The Marlins (52-57) received back-to-back home runs in the first inning from Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, providing Ureña with more than enough run support to prevent the Braves (51-59) from completing a sweep of the three-game series.
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“It’s great to see,” said A.J. Ellis, who was behind the plate on Sunday. “He’s a guy with a good mix and a lot of confidence right now.”
Ureña (10-5) held the Braves to three hits over six innings.
He wasn’t quite as stingy as he was on July 31 when he dueled with Hialeah’s Gonzalez at Marlins Park. That night, he gave up three hits over eight innings. But the Braves’ Lucas Sims (0-2), who was making his second major-league start, was no Gonzalez. He gave up a three-run homer in the first to Ozuna that was followed instantly by a solo shot from Realmuto.
Along with his home run, Realmuto made a nice, over-the-shoulder catch in what was his first major-league start at first base.
“He’s so athletic,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Realmuto. “That play he makes over his shoulder early, nobody makes on our club. You feel he’s as good as anybody we have over there.”
Said Realmuto: “It’s different not having to go throw your gear on after making the third out. It’s kind of nice not having to do that. I’m just trying to have fun with it. I haven’t even taken a ground ball since spring training.”
But Mattingly said he has no intention of giving Realmuto regular duty at first.
“He’s still our catcher,” Mattingly said. “He’s not going to be a guy over there three days a week or anything like that. But I think it is a way to get him off his legs, a day game like today.”
But it was Ureña who stood out for the Marlins.
He retired the first nine batters he faced and took a shutout into the sixth before giving up an RBI single to Ender Inciarte. Mattingly decided six innings was enough even though Urena had thrown just 73 pitches.
“I think it was just the spot,” said Mattingly, noting that he preferred to bring in southpaw Jarlin Garcia in the seventh because two lefties were due up for the Braves that inning.
The bullpen did the rest for the Marlins, with Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler working the final two innings to preserve the victory.
A LAUGHING MATTER
It wasn’t funny at the time, but after giving up a home run to Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer on Tuesday night, Marlins starter Chris O’Grady was able to laugh about it.
“I got plenty of funny texts about it,” O’Grady said.
The one that brought the biggest smile?
“There was a meme on Instagram,” O’Grady said. “It says, ‘Who’s your Daddy?’ and I was the baby being held by Scherzer. That actually made me laugh the next day.”
O’Grady will take the mound for the Marlins on Monday night when they open a four-game series in Washington. Scherzer, who came out of his start against the Marlins after one inning because of back spasms, is likely to start Monday.
▪ Monday: Marlins LHP O’Grady (2-1, 5.40 ERA) at Washington Nationals RHP Scherzer (12-5, 2.21), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Vance Worley (1-2, 5.31) at Nationals (TBA), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.