Urena finishes strong, gets another chance to start

Urena finishes strong, gets another chance to start

CINCINNATI -- A first inning that started so promising swung so swiftly on Tuesday night, and before Jose Urena could get back on track, he was tagged for five runs.

From that point, Urena was able to recover, but the Marlins were not, as the early damage set the tone in a 6-3 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Urena was called up earlier in the day from Triple-A New Orleans as a spot starter. After his 35-pitch first inning, which turned disastrous on Tucker Barnhart's grand slam, it appeared he was headed for an early exit. Instead, the young righty regrouped and made it through the sixth inning without any further damage.

After the game, manager Don Mattingly confirmed Urena not only weathered the night -- which did feature some light rain -- but he also will stay in the rotation and start on Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Mattingly on Urena's performance

"After the first, he was good," Mattingly said. "Once we get past the first, he throws five zeros and seemed to be better as the game was going on, but obviously, the first hurt him."

Urena actually came out sharp, getting two outs on eight pitches, before he started elevating his pitches. The next 27 pitches were a challenge. The Reds had a stretch of five straight batters reaching, with all scoring.

"I was hanging so many breaking balls," Urena said. "If I get it down in the count, they're going to be waiting for something in the zone that's up. After those two outs, it was key. I saw the ball was a little up."

Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler had three straight singles, loading the bases. Ivan De Jesus Jr. walked with the bases full, forcing in a run, and Barnhart's grand slam broke open a 5-1 lead.

"The ball was up," Mattingly said. "Joey hit a change. Suarez, looked like a hanging breaking ball. With Scheb, he gets into a bad count, and [Urena] gets a ball up to him over the plate. Scheb is a tough matchup. He likes the ball down, and that's really what you want Jose doing."

Urena, 24, is a hard-throwing right-hander with tremendous upside. But he lacks consistency, and he's dealt with a season of changing roles. He's been used in long relief and in setup situations, but now, with Adam Conley (left hand) on the disabled list, he is in the rotation.

According to Statcast™, Urena's four-seam fastball is averaging 96.19 mph, compared to the league average of 92.96. But in his three starts, he is 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA, striking out 18 while walking eight in 22 innings.

It isn't stuff when it comes to Urena. It's consistency.

"The first inning, that was tough," he said. "I was trying to put the ball down in the zone. I couldn't find it and I was fighting with myself. I have to put the ball down with those hitters."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.