Trevor Richards got a lot better at limiting walks and attacking the strike zone during his recent month-plus trip back to the minors.
It didn’t seem like it against the first two batters he faced Tuesday night.
But after issuing a pair of walks that led to a run, Richards got back on track and delivered one of the best starts of his rookie season.
The Marlins made sure it would result in Richards’ first career win after rallying a couple of innings later and holding on to a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Marlins Park.
Richards (1-3, 4.41 ERA in seven major-league starts) would hold the Giants (33-34) to that solitary run in the first and pitch six innings during which he allowed two hits, walked three overall and struck out two.
Richards, who has made a remarkable journey from pitching in the independent minor leagues to pitching in the majors in a short amount of time, was already getting congratulatory messages from friends and family after the game.
"It's good to get that one out of the way," Richards said. "I'm sure it will be pretty big. I think I'm the first Drury [University] pitcher to win an MLB game so it's exciting and I just want to continue to build from here."
Richards walked Joe Panik and Buster Posey to open the game, and threw a wild pitch that allowed them to move to second and third. A diving stop by JT Riddle on a sharp grounder by Brandon Crawford two batters later saved a run, but Panik scored to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
"JT saved that inning," Richards said. "He made a huge play and that's just having good defense behind me. I got a little too excited for the game and lost mechanics, but I was able to settle down and get going."
After rallying three times in Monday’s win over the Giants, the Marlins (25-42) came back again as Riddle hit a two-run double with the bases loaded in the third inning right after Starlin Castro tied it with a single.
It was Richards’ best outing since tossing seven scoreless innings on April 14 against the Pirates in a game the Marlins lost 1-0.
Before being recalled this past Thursday, Richards made six starts at Triple A New Orleans where he went 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA, striking out 37 and issuing only four walks.
"I just really focused on working my fastball around the plate a little more and making my breaking ball a little better," Richards said. "I was just focusing on the process and continuing to develop pitches and my arsenal down there."
Kyle Barraclough recorded his fourth save of the season and third since assuming the closer role. Barraclough also made his 14th consecutive scoreless appearance and extended his career-best scoreless inning streak to 13 2/3 innings. It is tied for the third-longest streak in the National League with Arizona's Yoshihisa Hirano and trailed only Jared Hughes (18 1/3) and Jon Lester (15) entering Tuesday night's games.
"It's just coming in and attacking," Barraclough said. "We sat down as a bullpen in Arizona and said we just have to attack and get back to what we're doing at the beginning of the season and what made us successful."
Despite his hitting struggles (.168 batting average), Lewis Brinson is proving himself to be one of baseball’s top defensive outfielders.
Brinson is tied for third in the majors with Harrison Bader and Lorenzo Cain in defensive runs saved with 11. The only outfielders with more are Brett Gardner (14) and Adam Duvall (12).
“It’s just high ceiling with [Brinson],” Mattingly said. “He’s going to be able to get to balls certain guys can’t get to because he has that speed. He’s a long strider out there in center field and he’s been really good.”
Reliever Brad Ziegler is teaming up with Pastime for Patriots – the military charity he founded – and Operation Shower to host a group baby shower for 30 military moms-to-be whose spouses are on active duty or deployed members of local bases or on active duty themselves. The event will be held from noon-2 p.m. on Wednesday at Marlins Park.
Wednesday: Miami Marlins LHP Caleb Smith (5-6, 3.70 ERA) vs. San Francisco Giants LHP Andrew Suarez (2-4, 5.06), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Thursday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (2-2, 4.08) vs. Giants RHP Dereck Rodriguez (1-1, 5.25), 12:10 p.m., Marlins Park.