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Sloppy defense, Justin Verlander torment Marlins in 4-1 loss

Despite the loss, several players showed promising signs for the future.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

JUPITER, Fla.—The Marlins offense had another disappointing day, losing to the Houston Astros Thursday, 4-1.

But this is Spring Training, and there are many things to look at beyond the final score. A few faces—both old and new—had encouraging performances.

Jose Urena tossed a solid two innings before running into trouble in the third. After starting the game with a leadoff walk, he went through the rest of the 1st inning in order, and capped it off with a strikeout of Carlos Correa.

His defense put him in trouble during the second inning however. Three different Marlins committed errors in the inning, which contributed to two unearned runs scoring. Three of Urena’s four runs were unearned. His lone blunder was a pickoff attempt to second base that sailed into the outfield, allowing Michael Brantley to reach third and eventually score.

The Marlins ace said he wants to work on incorporating his breaking ball earlier in games this spring and leading into the regular season:

Despite only conjuring one run, there was some positives out of the lineup. Miguel Rojas and Garrett Cooper combined for four hits, all coming against Justin Verlander. Cooper, who many had written off as a potential starting outfielder, has shown some promising at-bats this spring. He served as the Opening Day starting right fielder last year, but a wrist injury in the second game of the season sidelined him for all but 14 games.

Although it’s too soon to tell if he’ll reclaim that spot with Peter O’Brien also competing for it, Don Mattingly acknowledged his hot start.

“He’s actually looking better than I thought he would this spring, after not really playing at all last year. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. His timing looks good, he’s bounced back,” Mattingly said.

The Marlin bullpen threw 6 13 innings of shutout ball, including an inning from “Touchdown” Tommy Eveld and two from Zac Gallen.

Gallen came over from St. Louis in the Marcell Ozuna trade and spent the 2018 season with Triple-A New Orleans. In ranking him the No. 19 Marlins prospect entering this spring, Baseball America described him as having a low 90s fastball, maxing out around 94 miles per hour. But on Thursday, Gallen threw six pitches at 96 MPH and topped out at 97 MPH. The 23-year-old is having a solid spring, one year removed from disastrous Grapefruit League results (18 ER, 4.1 IP).

In the post-game clubhouse, Gallen was pleased about taking baby steps toward a major league regular season opportunity:

“Any time you can go out there and do better than you did before...My first outing [of the spring], Donnie [Mattingly] was like, ‘better than last year.’ I’m just trying to build off stuff, and last year I took as a big learning experience.”

The Fish travel up to Port St. Lucie on Friday. Dan Straily will take the hill for the Fish against Noah Syndergaard and the Mets. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

Marlins vs. Mets box score (MLB.com)