Miami Marlins

Marlins hold on to defeat Nationals after another strong performance from Caleb Smith

Don Mattingly explains why the Marlins fired their hitting coach

The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.
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The Miami Marlins announced on April 19, 2019 that they had fired hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo.

The Miami Marlins hoped that their off day came at the right time. After enduring a 15 game stretch that included five shutout losses and just two wins, maybe a 24-hour respite would be enough for the team to reset and get out of its early-season funk.

There’s still work to be done, but Friday gave them a needed starting point.

Behind six dominant innings from Caleb Smith and enough production from an offense that has been lethargic at times, the Marlins pulled out a 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park to begin a three-game series.

The Marlins’ go-ahead run: A Curtis Granderson bases-loaded hit-by-pitch by Nationals reliever Matt Grace in the bottom of the sixth to cap a two-run inning. Miguel Rojas started started the rally with a one-out double and moved over to third on an Isaac Galloway single. Rosell Herrera loaded the bases for the Marlins (5-15) after dropping down a bunt, which Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki picked up just in front of home plate but didn’t make a throw. Martin Prado, in as a pinch-hitter for Smith, walked on five pitches.

It was enough run support to give Smith his second consecutive victory and backed up another quality performance by the 27-year-old. Smith scattered five hits and gave up just one run off a Juan Soto RBI single in the first that scored Adam Eaton, who led off the game with a bunt single.

Smith threw 87 pitches, including 61 for strikes with 15 swings and misses. He struck out eight batters and didn’t allow a walk.

The Nationals (9-9) cut their deficit to one when Brian Dozier hit a one-out home run to left field in the seventh off reliever Nick Anderson. Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley and Sergio Romo closed the game with a pair of scoreless innings, with Romo earning his second save of the year.

The Marlins finished the game with six hits and four walks.

Injury updates

Garrett Cooper, the Marlins’ Opening Day starting right fielder who has been on the Injured List since March 31 with a calf injury, is expected to report to Jupiter on Sunday to continue his rehab.

Cooper impressed the Marlins during spring training but the injury bug hit yet again early before he had a chance to showcase what he could bring to the team. Last year, Cooper had just 38 plate appearances over 14 games while he dealt with a wrist injury.

Meanwhile, relief pitcher Riley Ferrell, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Houston Astros, is still “a ways away” from making his Marlins debut while he recovers from bicep tendinitis, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said pregame.

As a Rule 5 pick, Ferrell needs to be active on the Marlins’ major league roster for at least 90 days this season or else he will be returned to the Astros. Ferrell has already missed 20 games.

This and that

The Marlins kept Lewis Brinson out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game. Granderson started in left field, Galloway in center and Herrera in right.

With his third-inning walk and fifth-inning single, Brian Anderson has now safely reached base in eight consecutive games.