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HOU 4, MIA 3; Luzardo pitches well again, though Marlins fall

Former teammates Lewis Brinson and Jazz Chisholm Jr. standing on second base Photo by Jim Rassol/USA Today

After throwing 3 perfect innings in his 2022 spring debut last Tuesday, Jesús Luzardo sparkled once again on the mound at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Sunday afternoon, although the game ended in a 4-3 Astros win.

In his Tuesday start, Luzardo relied heavily on his fastball, throwing it 51% of the time. He used a different approach on Sunday. In his 4 innings pitched, Luzardo threw 61 pitches, and 48% (29) of them were curveballs. He generated 18 swings with that pitch, 8 of them whiffs. Luzardo also threw 29 fastballs and 3 changeups. He threw 41 of his 61 pitches (67%) for strikes.

In the previous matchups between these two teams on March 19, the Astros sent out a lineup of unrecognizable players. Not the case on Sunday—Luzardo was challenged with facing the vast majority of their projected Opening Day starters, including José Altuve and Alex Bregman.

When asked about how his command feels at this stage in the spring compared to previous years, he said “my command, especially with my fastball, is the best it’s been in a while.”

Luzardo recognized that he fell behind a few Astros hitters. He noted his maturity as a factor that helped him come back and not let any situations unravel, only walking one batter the entire afternoon.

It wound up being another solid outing for the young left-hander. His final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 5 SO. He has yet to allow an earned run in Grapefruit League competition.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo, left, talks with catcher Peyton Henry after the first inning against the Houston Astros during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

After a quiet first two innings for both sides, the Astros were able to manufacture a run in the 3rd. Martin Maldonado led off with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball by Payton Henry, and eventually scored on an Altuve sacrifice fly.

The Marlins responded in almost an identical way in the bottom half of the inning. Henry led off with a walk and advanced to third on Joey Wendle’s second hit of the game. Miguel Rojas drove him in with a sacrifice fly, tying the game at 1-1. Jesús Sánchez then lifted what should have been an easy inning-ending flyout that old friend Lewis Brinson dropped due to the sun. Wendle scored on what was ultimately ruled a double, after an initial E7 call.

The Marlins remained in control until the 6th inning when newly extended Richard Bleier surrendered a 3-run home run to Yuli Gurriel, making it 4-3 Astros. The game ended with that score, and Miami fell to 5-3 overall in Grapefruit League play. They take on the Washington Nationals on Monday afternoon with rookie Edward Cabrera getting the nod.

Wendle!

Newly acquired Joey Wendle, who is in contention to receive a significant amount of playing time this season, helped his cause on Sunday with a 3-for-3 performance. His 3 singles generated exit velocities of 95.3, 101, and 86.2 miles per hour respectively.

Starting at third base, Wendle scored and drove in a run from the leadoff spot. He’s the fourth Marlin in as many games to bat atop the lineup (previously Jon Berti on March 23, Jazz Chisholm Jr. on March 24 and Jorge Soler on March 26). Brian Anderson was in left field for Sunday’s game.