The Miami Marlins came crashing down to earth after the high of Opening Day. Less than 24 hours after posting five runs on nine hits, including a homer and two doubles, Miami’s bats quieted against Zack Wheeler. The Marlins loss dropped them to 1-1 on the season.
Caleb Smith made his season debut but struggled to consistently find the strike zone. Smith labored through three innings. He surrendered six walks and a towering home run to Didi Gregorius. Of his 70 pitches, only 36 went for strikes.
Smith battled with baserunners all afternoon. He managed to minimize the damage with timely strikeouts, but his pitch total pushed him from the game after three.
“Obviously, not a lot was working,” Smith said via Zoom after the game. “Six walks in three innings is not acceptable. A horse-shit outing. I take full responsibility for that loss.”
Smith’s six walks matched a career high, but none of the batters he issued free passes to crossed the plate to score.
“He made some good pitches when he had to,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “The walks hurt us. Put us on our heels all day long.”
All told, Marlins pitchers issued nine free passes to Phillies hitters.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” Mattingly acknowledged. “You walk nine guys in this ballpark, and it could’ve been a lot worse. All the walks put us in a bad spot all day long.”
The opposite was true for his opponent. Wheeler commanded the strike zone throughout, registering four strikeouts and inducing four inning-ending double plays.
“He was pretty dominant all day,” Mattingly said of Wheeler.
Every time the Marlins seemed to be a on the verge of making an offensive push, Wheeler worked free. His four-seam fastball averaged 96.8 mph and he induced inning-ending double-plays in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings.
Marlins hitters struck out seven times in total, managed only one extra base hit and went 1-for-5 with runner-in-scoring-position.
Three Marlins Make Debut in Loss
Despite the Marlins loss, one bright spot this afternoon was the different debuts. Nick Neidert and Alex Vesia made their MLB debuts, and Stephen Tarpley made his first appearance with Miami. Of the three, Neidert proved to be the most successful.
The 23-year-old righty stands as the Marlins No. 10 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline. He entered in the fourth and tossed 2.1 scoreless innings from there. He gave up a hit and walk but kept the Marlins in the game.
Afterwards, Neidert called the debut “a dream come true. I’ve dreamed of this day since I was five years old. It was an amazing feeling. We didn’t get the win, and there’s always tomorrow, but it was a dream come true.”
Veisa followed Neidert in the sixth. He started his MLB career with a strikeout of Didi Gregorius, but subsequently walked Scott Kingery and surrendered a two-run homer to Phil Gosselin.
Ryne Stanek made his season debut and served up a three-run homer to J.T. Realmuto. In the eighth, Gosselin added a solo shot off Tarpley, who the Marlins acquired in December from the New York Yankees.
The Marlins will look to bounce back from this loss on Sunday afternoon. Jose Urena starts for Miami versus Vince Velasquez of the Phillies. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM.