Tuesday was a chance for Zac Gallen to grow. Just six days earlier, the starting pitcher tossed five solid innings against the Washington Nationals before melting down in the sixth at Marlins Park. The rookie mixed the good with the bad in his second career start for the Miami Marlins and could regroup with an opportunity to face the same team once again less than a week later.
His second try was done after only two innings, although it wasn’t Gallen’s fault this time. A 76-minute rain delay washed away Gallen’s third career start and the Marlins dropped a series-opener to the Nationals, 3-2, in Washington when the Trea Turner doubled home Yan Gomes for a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth against Jose Quijada.
“We definitely had a little different idea on the game plan. I wanted to see how it worked out,” Gallen said. “It was kind of unfortunate. You only pitch every five days, so you kind of want to make the most of when you’re out there. So it’s not fun when your outing gets cut short.”
For most of the day, two-run home run by Juan Soto in the bottom of the first inning was the difference and Gallen never got a chance to truly regroup after the early misstep. In the second inning, the starter gave up a one-out double and walk before he escaped a miniature jam with back-to-back strikeouts. Now trailing 2-1, Miami (32-51) went down in order in the top of the third as rain began pouring at Nationals Park, chasing most of the 21,361 to the concourse and eventually the exits. The rain delay began before Gallen could return to the mound and try building on a better second inning.
More than an hour later, play resumed and Washington (43-41) went to bat against relief pitcher Adam Conley. A fascinating test for Gallen was effectively halted before it could truly begin. The Marlins’ bullpen kept the game within striking distance until Quijada (0-2) finally broke by giving up an unearned run in the ninth.
“He’s going to learn plenty as the year goes on, so you’re disappointed because you don’t want to run through your bullpen on an hour-and-20-minute rain delay or something, but you didn’t feel good about sending him back out there,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s not really probably used to anything like that.”
In the other clubhouse, Patrick Corbin worked to pitch through the rain. His break lasted even longer than 76 minutes and his return was dominant. The starting pitcher, who wrote “45” on the dirt of the mound and wore No. 45 instead of his usual No. 46 as a tribute to late Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs, gave up a run in the first inning before he even got an out when the Marlins led off with three straight singles, but settled in after sitting for about an hour and a half. In three innings before the rain delay, Corbin allowed one run and four hits with three strikeouts. In the four after the delay, the starter held Miami scoreless on two hits with four strikeouts.
The rain delay did, however, force Corbin out of the game after only 87 pitches, which gave the Marlins two innings to take their shot against the Nationals’ unstable bullpen and they quickly took advantage. Cesar Puello led off the eighth with a double, fellow outfielder Curtis Granderson moved him to third with a groundout and Miguel Rojas, who went 3 for 3, drove him home with a sacrifice fly. Miami needed only three batters to tie the game at 2-2 against relief pitcher Wander Suero.
Washington’s bullpen typically stabilizes with Sean Doolittle in the ninth, though, and it did again Tuesday. Doolittle (5-2) came in and worked around a two-out walk to keep the tie intact into the bottom of the ninth, when Gomes reached on an error and came around to score when Turner laced a double into the right-center field gap.
Caleb Smith ready to return
Caleb Smith’s second rehab start went according to plan for the Miami Marlins and they’ve now moved on to figuring out just when the starting pitcher will make his return to the rotation.
“He got his pitch count built up. I think he was in the 80s, but he may have thrown a little bit more and it sounds like he’s worked his way back to health or basically build-up,” Mattingly said. “He’s been healthy for both of those starts, so we’re ready to move forward from here.”
Smith traveled with the Marlins to Washington for their three-game series against the Washington Nationals and took batting practice on the field at Nationals Park on Tuesday before Miami kicked off the six-game road it will ride into the All-Star break. Smith is in line to start one of these last games, almost certainly once the Marlins travel to Atlanta on Friday for a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves. A return would come almost exactly a month from when he landed on the injured list with a hip injury in early June.
The left-handed pitcher made his second and final rehab start Sunday with Double A Jacksonville, allowing five hits and four earned runs in five innings. Although the statistics have been disappointing for Smith on his rehab stint, the starter built his pitch count up to 83 in the win against Double A Chattanooga, which is about where Miami wanted to get him.
Regular rest would have Smith start Friday to kick of the series at SunTrust Park. The Marlins’ starters are all working on an extra day of rest going into the All-Star break thanks to an off day Monday. Miami lists Sandy Alcantara as the starter for Wednesday and pitcher Elieser Hernandez for Thursday. Friday would be Jordan Yamamoto’s turn and fellow starting pitcher Trevor Richards would be in line to start Saturday. The Marlins could opt to slot Smith in somewhere this weekend and go with a six-man rotation for one turn before making a final decision on who will move to the bullpen or go down to the minors after the All-Star break.
“We’ll keep talking exactly where we want to fit him in,” Mattingly said. “As soon as we know exactly where, then we’ll be able to talk to you more about it, but we’re kind of making plans.”
This and that
▪ Brian Anderson lasted only an inning Tuesday. The slugging third baseman made a rare start in right field and suffered a right elbow contusion leaping into the wall trying to make a play on a Juan Soto home run in the bottom of the first inning. The Marlins are listing him as day to day.
▪ Jon Berti kicked of his rehab assignment Saturday, and notched hits in each of his first two games with Triple A New Orleans on Saturday and Sunday. Berti, who primarily contributed as a second baseman and third baseman for Miami before landing on the IL in May, is recovering from an oblique injury and not expected to return until after the All-Star break.
▪ Tayron Guerrero has started his throwing program as he recovers from a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand. The relief pitcher, who landed on the IL on Friday, traveled with the Marlins to Washington. Starting pitcher Pablo Lopez, meanwhile,started a throwing progression Monday as he recovers from a mild shoulder strain he sustained last month. Relief pitcher Drew Steckenrider is also in a throwing program as he remains on the 60-day IL for a right flexor strain he sustained in May.
▪ Chad Wallach is continuing baseball activity. The catcher landed on the IL with a concussion in May and has since been transferred to the 60-day IL. Corner infielder Martin Prado is in a running progression in Jupiter after injuring his hamstring last month.
▪ Jose Urena is still only in therapy as he recovers from a herniated disc. Miami placed the starting pitcher on the 60-day IL last month.