JUPITER, Fla. — Five days ago, Miami Marlins right-hander Mat Latos called his outing embarrassing after he couldn’t get a batter out during an eight-run third inning when eight straight players reached base.
Latos rebounded from that rough start with a spring-high 5 1/3 innings in a 1-1 tie with the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.
Latos, who gave up nine runs on eight hits on Monday against the New York Mets, reached his 80-pitch limit after facing 22 batters during Saturday’s matinee.
Though he scattered six hits, Latos allowed just a leadoff homer to Hank Conger in the fifth. It came on a 1-0 changeup. He walked two and struck out three with a pair of wild pitches. Of his 80 pitches 47 went for strikes.
"I feel great," Latos said. "I think you see night and day. I couldn’t get an out the other day. My last outing mechanics completely off. Today everything was downhill — fastball, slider, changeup, split, curveball. Was able to get outs, make good pitches when I needed to the most. For the most part that was strike one."
Added manager Mike Redmond: "I thought he looked good. He got his pitches in. I thought he threw some really nice breaking balls, located his fastball pretty well. Really just had the home run. Other than that he gave us a chance to win. He got his work in and looked good."
His defense also provided support. With runners at first and second, Dee Gordon turned a flashy 4-6-3 double play to end the second. Giancarlo Stanton threw out Carlos Correa, who tried to go from second to home on Marwin Gonzalez’s single in the fourth. Marcell Ozuna tracked down Evan Gattis’ long fly ball to start the sixth.
Take away the disastrous outing against the Mets and Latos has permitted three runs on 10 hits over 11 1/3 innings in three other starts. He would have a 2.38 ERA rather than a 7.20 one.
"I felt a lot better," Latos said. "Sharpened mechanics up. Figured out what we did wrong last start, take it to the bullpen, take it to the game here. I made a couple mistakes, missed strike zone a little bit, walked a couple of guys. It’s hard to get people out when you give them free passes. All in all can’t complain.
"I feel good. I could’ve gone more. One more start after this and take it down to Miami."