WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—The Marlins visited the Washington Nationals on a gloomy Monday afternoon at FITTEAM Ballpark. A crowd of 3,084 witnessed a matchup between prized free agent Patrick Corbin and second-year starter Caleb Smith. But it was the lesser-known left-hander who had far more success, highlighting a 7-1 Marlins win, their 10th in a row.
A throwing error and back-to-back doubles gave the Marlins an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first.
That’s all the support that Miami’s pitching staff would need.
Smith made his second appearance of the spring for the Fish (his first start). He looked impressive from the get-go, striking out veteran outfielder Adam Eaton to get his first punchout of the day. The 27-year-old delivered a fine outing (5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K on an efficient 64 pitches), hence the nickname “Dr. K.”
Let me tell ya: watching his spin rate up close is on another level. I can’t recall a lefty striking out so many guys with such ordinary low 90s fastball velocity. Not overpowering, but location helps the art of pitching. Through nine total innings in the Grapefruit League, Smith owns a 1.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
Did we mention he was also trending on Twitter during the game for #PitchersWhoRake? Smith connected on two singles to complement his work on the mound—Shohei Ohtani better watch out!
In the clubhouse afterwards, Smith spoke to Fish Stripes about finding his groove again after last summer’s severe lat injury:
Catching up with Caleb "Dr. K" Smith postgame after 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB(!!!), 7 K— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) March 18, 2019
: @TheRealACoN pic.twitter.com/2VJAEZgHMl
(Love the fact that his mom was the one to mention it to him)
Bright spots in the 2018 Marlins lineup, 3B Brian Anderson and OF/1B Peter O’Brien look to build on their success this season. Today, they combined to go 4-for-7 with two doubles and five runs batted in.
Rbi double courtesy Hialeah’s finest #peterobrien @Marlins #elorgullodehialeah pic.twitter.com/qDqzpPMbYl— Alex Contreras (@TheRealACoN) March 18, 2019
O’Brien had been on the roster bubble after slumping to begin Spring Training, but he continues to strengthen his case by getting hot at the right time.
The bilingual Hialeah native explained his approach to all the competition in major league camp:
Peter O'Brien en español after his 5 RBI day— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) March 18, 2019
: @TheRealACoN pic.twitter.com/GefJq6hGca
El veterano Sergio Romo pitched a perfect sixth inning, followed by Jarlin “The Marlin” García, who got an inning’s worth of work in the seventh, allowing just a hit. In the eighth, García was relieved by Brian Moran (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 K) who also pitched a scoreless inning. Mike Kickham slammed the door on the Nationals by striking out two, putting their fans out of misery.
Outfielder Austin Dean (2-3, RBI single) was another solid performer from the victory.
Victoria para los Marlins!— Alex Contreras (@TheRealACoN) March 18, 2019
Kickham with 2 strikeouts to end it.
Marlins win 7-1 here in WPB vs Nationals #MarlinsWin 14 wins pic.twitter.com/7VZUZ85AFB
With the win today, this team took sole possession of second place in Marlins history with 10 consecutive spring wins. The 1997 Marlins have the record with 11 in a row (Feb. 28-Mar. 8, 1997)...We all know what went on to happen that season, right?!