MIAMI >> It has been a rarity for much of the season for the Miami Marlins’ starting pitchers, but Jordan Yamamoto was afforded a second chance today. In a season clouded by ineffective offense, even near-perfect outings for the Marlins’ young starters often haven’t been enough. Single-inning meltdowns have been commonplace and often enough to cost Miami any chance at winning.
Yamamoto had a second chance today against the San Diego Padres. The Saint Louis alum pitched with a three-run lead after the first inning, so the mistakes he made in the second inning didn’t doom the Marlins to another inevitable loss. The starting pitcher walked back to the dugout after the second inning with the game tied and went back out to it half an inning later with another lead, which would eventually balloon all the way into a 12-7 win in Miami.
Yamamoto wasn’t quite as unflappable as he has been when at his best for the Marlins (35-57) this year — the second inning briefly spiraled out of control before he escaped with three runs allowed — but the right-handed pitcher delivered another strong start in a rookie season so far almost exclusively filled with them.
Across five innings, Yamamoto matched a career high with 99 pitches. He struck out four batters, walked two and allowed four hits. The starter allowed two runs in a rocky second inning, then gave up two more baserunners to start the third inning before wiggling out of the miniature jam. The rest of the way, Yamamoto was untouchable. No one reached base for the Padres (45-49) in the first, fourth or fifth innings. He finished by setting down eight in a row, pitching his best against a legitimately imposing top of the order. His ERA rose to 1.59.
Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, San Diego’s star tandem on the left side of the infield, combined to go 0 for 5 with one walk and two strikeouts against Yamamoto. Tatis, one of the few rookies in MLB more impressive than Yamamoto this season, went 0 for 3 with one of the strikeouts against the righty.
The strikeout was how Yamamoto (4-0) opened the game, firing a 92-mph fastball past the shortstop. Two batters later, Yamamoto pounded a 93-mph fastball above the zone and Machado swung through.
For most of his outing, Yamamoto was the unsolvable 23-year-old he has been for most of the year. His third and fourth strikeouts both came in the fourth, when he ripped a 93-mph fastball by second baseman Ian Kinsler, then got outfielder Manuel Margot to chase a cutter as part of a 1-2-3 inning against the bottom of the Padres’ order. He faced the top of the order one more time in the fifth and went through them in just 10 pitches to complete five innings. With a 7-3 lead, Miami could turn to its bullpen to close out a lopsided win in front of 8,151 at Marlins Park.
It was a rare occasion when Miami’s offense could bail Yamamoto out from a near-disaster inning. The top of the second inning began with two singles, a walk, another single, an RBI groundout and a hit batter, and a 3-0 lead had quickly disintegrated into a 3-3 tie before Yamamoto could get out of the inning. Briefly, a 440-foot, three-run home run by Brian Anderson in the first inning seemed to be wasted.
Today against Logan Allen, one inning wasn’t just a blip for the Marlins’ offense. Miami’s second inning began with a walk, a single, a sacrifice bunt and another walk to load the bases, and outfielders Harold Ramirez and Garrett Cooper handled the rest. Ramirez hit his second double of the game off Allen (2-2) to score and Cooper followed with a single down the first-base line for two more runs.
With a 7-3 lead, the Marlins were back in control. For the rest of his outing, so was Yamamoto.