Suns' Urena blocks out the Blue Wahoos

Marlins righty allows two hits in six innings in best start of season

Jose Urena improved to 4-2 through eight Southern League starts in 2014. (Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Yankees)

By Ashley Marshall / | May 16, 2014 12:06 AM ET

Entering Thursday, each of Jose Urena's previous seven Southern League starts had been against seven different teams.

Getting his second look at a lineup for the first time, Miami's No. 8 prospect made the adjustments and delivered his strongest start of the year.

Urena (4-2) allowed two hits and a walk while striking out five batters over six innings in the Double-A Jacksonville Suns' 11-0 rout of the host Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

"He pitched very well," Suns manager Andy Barkett said. "He was very aggressive, he used all of his pitches and he attacked the strike zone. All three [fastball, slider, changeup] were very effective ... but his fastball was probably his best pitch.

"He had an outing in Mississippi that was close to this one [three runs over eight innings on May 4], but this start was definitely his best outing of the year. He got more confidence as the game went on. It was fun to watch."

Urena carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Travis Mattair smacked a one-out single to center field, but the right-hander rolled a 5-4-3 double-play ball to escape the inning.

Steve Selsky led off the sixth with an infield single to third base, but the Dominican Republic native set down the final three batters before turning the shutout bid over to his bullpen.

Signed by the Marlins as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, Urena also walked one and hit a batter in lowering his ERA from 5.63 to 4.87. The 22-year-old threw 59 of 92 pitches for strikes and induced eight ground-ball outs.

"He has scuffled a little bit to start the season, but to come out there and throw a game like this is big for his confidence," said Barkett. "Tonight was a night where it all came together for him. Hopefully he can build off this.

"He has good stuff. If he attacks hitters like he did tonight, he can stifle just about any lineup. That's why he's on the 40-man roster and regarded as a top prospect."

When Urena first faced the Blue Wahoos on April 23, he allowed six runs on a season-high nine hits, including two homers, over five innings.

"He was ahead in the count tonight," Barkett said. "In that outing [on April 23], he was behind in the count and leaving pitches over the plate. He was consistently ahead tonight and his off-speed pitches were effective.

"Once you've seen the hitters, you can develop a game plan on getting them out. You know what pitches to use in certain situations. ... When you're confident in what you can do to a team, to a certain lineup, it is a lot easier to trust your stuff."

Edgar Olmos surrendered one hit and walked one batter while striking out three batters over three innings to complete the shutout.

Jacksonville shortstop Austin Nola was 3-for-4 with three doubles, two walks, two RBIs and a pair of runs scored, catcher J. T. Realmuto plated three runs and left fielder Alfredo Silverio went 2-for-5 with a solo homer, his second long ball of the year.

"We moved [Nola] up in the lineup to the two hole and he got some good pitches to hit," said Barkett. "He was seeing the ball well and making good contact. It was nice to see.

"[Realmuto] just continued his progression as a hitter. He will be a really good player in the big leagues one day. He is learning how to hit with runners in scoring position. He had a big hit to give us a run early in the game, he walked to drive in a run and he had a line drive for an RBI. He showed a professional approach in all of his at-bats."

Pensacola starter Daniel Corcino (3-4) allowed six runs -- two earned -- on four hits and four walks while striking out two batters over 1 2/3 innings in a losing effort.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarsahllMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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