PHOENIX (AP)Caleb Smith had a miserable start to the abbreviated 2020 season, but it didn’t have anything to do with his performance on the field. Instead, he was one of more than a dozen Miami Marlins who was quarantining in separate small hotel rooms after testing positive for COVID-19.
Six weeks and one trade to the Diamondbacks later, he had his successful return.
Smith threw three solid innings in his first outing with Arizona, long reliever Alex Young worked into the ninth and the Diamondbacks beat the Seattle Mariners 4-3 on Friday night.
”It felt great to get back on the field, it’s been a long time coming,” Smith said. ”I’m ecstatic to be with this organization and happy to be where I’m at. I thought I threw the ball decent today, but the most important thing was getting out there and being healthy.”
Smith gave up one hit – Dylan Moore’s solo homer in the third – in his first start since the Diamondbacks acquired him in a trade with the Marlins. The left-hander struck out three and walked one.
The 29-year-old hadn’t pitched in a big league game since July 25. He was one of 17 players placed on the Marlins’ injured list following the team’s COVID-19 outbreak in late July.
Smith said he was only sick for one day but couldn’t do any real pitching activity while he spent time in quarantine. It took him a while to get the two negative tests in a row necessary to return and then more time to build back his arm strength.
”You kind of lose your sanity, stuck in a 200-square-foot room,” Smith said. ”You try to do what you can, move around, watch TV, try to get a workout in, something to pass the time.”
The D-backs hope Smith can hold down a spot in their rotation after they traded longtime starter Robbie Ray to the Blue Jays.
Young (2-3) gave up two runs on two hits over 5 1/3 innings and got the first out of the ninth by striking out Kyle Seager. Stefan Crichton retired the last two batters to finish the three-hitter for his first career save.
Seattle’s Yusei Kikuchi (2-3) allowed four runs over six innings. The left-hander gave up six hits, walked one and struck out five. He gave up three runs in the first, but was very good over his final five innings.
”I felt like I was getting a little too cute in the early innings there,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. ”But the last three or four innings, I went out with a more aggressive mentality just trying to get the fastball going again.”
Arizona jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. Christian Walker’s triple scored Josh Rojas, Eduardo Escobar’s sacrifice fly scored Walker and Nick Ahmed’s single brought home Kole Calhoun, who hit a double.
”They executed a really good game plan offensively,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. ”We just pieced things together, had a good approach, our plan was good and we attacked the pitches we were looking for.”
The Diamondbacks led 4-1 after six innings. The Mariners got a run-scoring single in the seventh from Jose Marmolejos. Ty France homered in the eighth – his first with Seattle since being traded from the Padres – to make it 4-3.
The Mariners had several hard-hit balls that didn’t result in hits. Two scorched line drives went straight to third baseman for outs. A handful of deep fly balls were just shy of being homers.
”Really can’t fault our guys. Some nights baseball’s not fair, and this time was one of those nights,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”I thought we were right on a lot of pitches, drove some balls very well. Just luck was not on our side.”
Mariners: Seattle placed 2B Shed Long on the 10-day injured list with a stress fracture in his right shin. The 25-year-old was hitting .171 with three homers. He was replaced on the roster by RHP Brady Lail, who has pitched in four games with the Mariners this season.
Seattle put starting shortstop J.P. Crawford on the bereavement list on Friday and called up infielder Donovan Walton. The Mariners also put outfielder Mallex Smith on the Triple-A Tacoma roster. The 27-year-old was optioned to Seattle’s alternate training site on Aug. 18 after batting .133 in 14 games this season. Smith led the big leagues with 46 stolen bases last year.
Mariners: Seattle sends LHP Justus Sheffield (2-3, 4.34 ERA) to the mound on Saturday.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zac Gallen (1-1, 2.29) has been Arizona’s best pitcher this season but is trying to bounce back from his worst outing of the season on Monday, when he gave up four runs in five innings.
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