It was more of the same from Caleb Smith on Thursday night.
And, eventually, the Miami Marlins’ offense provided enough support for a 3-1, 10-inning win over the Philadelphia Phillies to begin a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
The final blow: A Starlin Castro go-ahead, two-out, two-run homer in the top of the 10th off reliever Hector Neris. Sergio Romo earned the save.
But the Marlins (8-17), who have now won three consecutive series openers, likely would not have been in the position to win if not for another gutsy performance from Smith.
The Marlins’ 27-year-old left-handed pitcher dominated the Phillies (13-12), throwing six innings and tying a season high with eight strikeouts for his fourth consecutive quality start. Smith gave up just four hits and one run — a solo home run to Sean Rodriguez in the second — in the no-decision.
But the most telling part of Smith’s performance came two at-bats into his time on the mound when he faced catcher and former teammate J.T. Realmuto for a lengthy, 16-pitch at-bat.
After working the count full in the first five pitches, Realmuto proceeded to foul off the next 10 pitches thrown his way, a healthy mix of change-ups, four-seam fastballs and sliders, before ultimately getting Realmuto to strike out swinging on a 94 mph fastball.
Smith threw 102 pitches on Thursday, 78 of which went for strikes.
Through five starts, Smith has a 2.17 ERA with 37 strikeouts to just seven walks over 29 innings of work.
The Marlins tied the game in the third on a Martin Prado RBI single that scored Lewis Brinson, who led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt before Prado’s hit.
They had a chance to take the lead in the ninth. Miguel Rojas led off the inning with a single and moved to second base on a Brinson sacrifice bunt. After Rosell Herrera struck out, Isaac Galloway hit a single to shallow left field. Rojas attempted to score from second on the play, but a throw from Nick Williams in left field made it to Realmuto in time to tag Rojas out at home.
Prado’s success streak
It has been a productive road trip for Prado, who is quietly having a solid start to the 2019 season. On Tuesday, the Marlins’ 35-year-old utility infielder recorded the 1,500th hit of his MLB career in a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. On Wednesday, he hit his first home run since July 5 last season in the Marlins’ 8-2 loss to the Indians. And then on Thursday, he recorded career RBI No. 600 when he scored Brinson.
Brinson back in lineup
Lewis Brinson returned to the starting lineup on Thursday after sitting out both games against the Cleveland Indians and only being in the lineup once over the past six games. He played in center field and batted eighth.
After being hit by a pitch and striking out in his first two plate appearances, Brinson roped a single into left field in the seventh inning to snap an 0-for-16 stretch. He also had a sacrifice bunt in the ninth.
Right-handed reliever Austin Brice (gastroenteritis) threw a rehab assignment inning on Tuesday at Class A Advanced Jupiter. He is scheduled to throw again on Friday.
Riley Ferrell (right biceps tendinitis) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Thursday.
Julian Fernandez (recovering from Tommy John surgery) is continuing his throwing program.
Outfielder/first baseman Garrett Cooper (left calf strain) played in an extended spring training game on Thursday as a designated hitter and could start a rehab assignment for the Jupiter Hammerheads as early as Friday.