MIAMI — Miami Marlins pitcher Jordan Yamamoto had just dropped down a successful suicide squeeze bunt and was on his way back to the dugout when he stopped at the plate to pick up his bat and return it to the rack, beating the batboy to the task.
What a rookie.
Yamamoto did it all Wednesday, earning an RBI and pitching seven innings to win his major league debut, and the Marlins broke a six-game losing streak by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0.
Garrett Cooper hit a grand slam and finished a double shy of the cycle. That was more than enough support for Yamamoto, acquired last year in the Christian Yelich trade.
The 23-year-old Hawaiian right-hander limited St. Louis to three hits and two walks.
“At first I was really nervous,” Yamamoto said. “I’ve been sweating all day. But once I got the first guy out, I kind of calmed down.”
Yamamoto topped out at only 93 mph but changed speeds and threw strikes.
“He’s a fun guy to watch,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I’m sure if he goes to a tryout, the scouts are looking at this guy and you’re probably not signing him. But he can add and subtract. He’ll throw his fastball at 86, and at 92. He just mixes and mixes. He’s unpredictable.”
Two relievers completed a three-hitter.
Yamamoto was recalled from Double-A Jacksonville to fill in for Jose Ureña, who went on the 10-day injured list with a strained lower back. After he received word Tuesday of his promotion to the majors, his parents and sister scrambled to make it to the game from Hawaii.
“I called them and was like, ‘Hey, get on a flight,'” he said. “They were like, ‘It’s too expensive.’ I said, ‘Mom, I don’t care. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Get out here.'”
Yamamoto enjoyed an early cushion thanks to Cooper, who pulled a two-out inside fastball that was off the plate for a grand slam in the second inning against Miles Mikolas (4-7).
Cooper also tripled and scored in the first inning, and singled in the fifth. He struck out in the seventh and eighth.
“I’m not going to lie, I was looking for that double,” he said with a chuckle. “I swung a little too hard the last couple of times.”
Yamamoto’s bunt in the sixth made it 6-0, and Curtis Granderson hit a three-run homer in the eighth. The laugher was quite a change for the Marlins, who totaled 10 runs during their losing streak.
The Cardinals had several hard-hit outs against Yamamoto. Their best threat came with runners at the corners and none out in the fourth, when the rookie right-hander escaped with a foulout by Marcell Ozuna and a double play grounder by Yadier Molina.
But Yamamoto struck out five and was consistently ahead in the count. He needed only 95 pitches.
“Congratulations to Jordan,” said Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, another Hawaiian. “I’m really proud of him. He kept his composure all night.”
When Yamamoto notched his first strikeout, the stadium PA system played the theme from “Hawaii Five-0.” He wore jersey No. 50.
He was acquired in January 2018, and Yelich went on to win the National League Most Valuable Player award for the Milwaukee Brewers.
CHANGE IN FORTUNE
Mikolas gave up five runs in five innings and lost his fifth decision in a row. He went 18-4 last season.
“I’m not getting away with as many mistakes as I did last year,” he said. “I got a little lucky last year. I don’t think I’m lucky at all this year.”
Cardinals: RHP Ryan Helsley (shoulder impingement) faced two batters in the sixth and then left the game. He’ll go on the injured list, manager Mike Shildt said. … Barring a setback, INF Jedd Gyorko (strained lower back) is expected to be activated Tuesday, when he’s eligible to come off the 10-day injured list.
Marlins: Injury-plagued 3B Martin Prado (tight right hamstring) will go on the injured list, Mattingly said. Prado pulled up while running out a groundout in the third and left the game. … Ureña went on the IL retroactive to Sunday.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.08) is scheduled to start Thursday to begin a four-game series at the New York Mets. RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-0, 1.80) is scheduled to make his second start of the season Friday as a replacement for the injured Adam Wainwright.
Marlins: Following a day off, RHP Trevor Richards (3-6, 3.31) is scheduled to start Friday to begin a three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Richards is 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA in his past four starts.