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Starlin Castro’s milestone home run puts Marlins ahead for good in 6-0 win

Two of MLB’s most underrated pitchers, Caleb Smith and Drew Steckenrider, dominated the Reds to even the series.

Miami Marlins v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Marlins (12-20) jumped ahead early and piled on late to defeat the Reds (8-25) Saturday night, 6-0.

Homerless through his first 31 games with the club, Starlin Castro earned his long-awaited 100th MLB home run with a two-run shot to one of the deepest parts of Great American Ball Park. And that’s all the support Caleb Smith would need—he dominated for the third consecutive start (5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K).

As chronicled in our KKKKKKKaleb Smith thread on Twitter, the left-hander got plenty of awkward, late swings from Cincinnati batters. He did it almost entirely with fastballs and sliders, mixing in just eight changeups among his 98 total pitches.

Although Castro got his milestone out of the way and later padded the lead with an RBI double in the eighth, it wasn’t a perfect night. His sixth-inning error on a routine Joey Votto grounder prevented Smith from getting credited with a “quality start.” That brought the tying run to the plate and pressured Don Mattingly to call upon Drew Steckenrider to escape the jam.

Steckenrider retired every batter he faced in 1 13 innings, lowering his career earned run average to 1.97. He joins Kiko Calero from the 2009 Marlins as the only pitchers in franchise history with a sub-2.00 ERA (min. 50 IP).

Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle settled down considerably after the inauspicious beginning. He allowed only one hit over his final four frames and remains on the periphery of the way-too-early NL Rookie of the Year race.

Aside from Castro’s three runs batted in, the other offensive production came via Justin Bour’s solo homer and a Brian Anderson two-run, opposite-field single. The rookie Anderson continues to lead the team with 18 RBI this season. Love that guy.

Fish Stripes original GIF

In perhaps the only bit of negative news for the Fish, J.T. Realmuto went 0-for-3, failing to extend his career-best 12-game hitting streak.

Next up, Dan Straily (9.00 ERA, 12.17 FIP in 4.0 IP) takes the mound against his former employer. It’ll be just his second outing since returning from the disabled list. Former first-round draft pick Brandon Finnegan (7.27 ERA, 7.61 FIP in 17.1 IP) has been struggling with his control, so the Marlins should have a decent chance, even if Straily continues to look rusty. Sunday’s first pitch will be at 4:10pm ET.

Win Probability chart via FanGraphs

Kingfish: Caleb Smith (.300 WPA)

Flounder: Devin Mesoraco (-.144)

Play of the game: Castro’s big No. 100 (.164)

Attendance: 19,609

Please leave any Icthy picks in the comments below (explainer).

Today's Lineups

J.T. Realmuto - C Jesse Winker - RF
Martin Prado - 3B Jose Peraza - SS
Starlin Castro - 2B Joey Votto - 1B
Justin Bour - 1B Eugenio Suarez - 3B
Brian Anderson - RF Adam Duvall - LF
Derek Dietrich - LF Scooter Gennett - 2B
Lewis Brinson - CF Scott Schebler - CF
Miguel Rojas - SS Devin Mesoraco - C
Caleb Smith - LHP Tyler Mahle - RHP

Pitching Matchup

Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Name Team IP ERA FIP K/9 fWAR
Caleb Smith Marlins 28.2 4.40 3.80 12.87 0.4
Tyler Mahle Reds 33.1 4.32 4.70 10.26 0.1

Matchup Summary

Friday night’s series opener was a disappointing step back for Wei-Yin Chen. He faced all nine Reds batters during a messy first inning and issued four walks overall, tying his highest game total as a member of the Marlins.

Miami’s offense had a few opportunities, particularly during the sixth inning when the Reds went to their bullpen. However, they finished the night 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Lewis Brinson provided their only run production in the 4-1 loss.

So the Fish hope the red-hot Caleb Smith gives them reason to celebrate on Cinco de Mayo. All of the impact bullpen arms should be available behind him, thanks to Thursday’s off day.

Rookie right-hander Tyler Mahle gets the starting assignment for Cincinnati. Can’t really tell you what to expect—nobody on the Marlins active roster has ever faced him in a major league game.

Thread question: The Mets are expected to release Matt Harvey in the next few days. Should the Fish try to sign him?