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MIA@STL: Eovaldi strikes out Peralta in the first

MIAMI -- For those who like talented young pitchers who in order to reach stardom just need a little luck when it comes to health, Tuesday night's second game between the Rockies and Marlins is a treat.

Rockies lefty Brett Anderson, 26, started last year's opener for the Athletics, but his season was marred by foot and ankle injuries. Marlins righty Nathan Eovaldi, 24, was forced to open last year on the disabled list and didn't pitch until June, but he flashed his immense potential after that. They'll oppose each other in the second game of the four-game season-opening series at Marlins Park, after the Marlins won the opener, 10-1.

Anderson went 11-11 with 150 strikeouts with Oakland in 2009, but Tommy John surgery in '11 slowed him. He seemed back last spring, when he earned the Opening Day start, but the foot and ankle injuries reduced him to a 1-4 record and a 6.04 ERA in 16 games -- just five starts.

Traded to the Rockies during the offseason, Anderson impressed throughout Spring Training (2-0, 3.27 ERA in 22 innings). But he was happy with accomplishing the simplest task.

"Staying healthy -- that's always an issue, and it will be until I make multiple, multiple starts," Anderson said. "I also worked on some things. The changeup is always going to be a work in progress. I gave up quite a few hits toward the end, but results-wise, I was pretty good. I got my work in. I was really efficient, kept a good pace and got a bunch of groundballs."

Anderson excelled at a little bit of everything. He handled the bat on sacrifices and even had a hit -- something he hadn't done in the Majors or Minors with the American League Athletics. He also fielded the position well.

Scouts said Anderson appeared in better shape than in the past. Part of it was simply not having the lingering foot and ankle problems, but the other part was a change in his conditioning program.

"It was more stretching, trying to be nimble and doing footwork stuff," Anderson said. "I'm never going to be nimble and fleet of foot, but as long as I can get to first base before the runner, then I have a chance.

"I had a personal trainer for the first time this offseason. I think it was beneficial -- not just your standard lifts and core stuff and running. I feel good, feel light and more athletic on the mound. Hopefully that translates to 35 good starts." Even before the season opened on Monday night, Eovaldi had his own personal victory. He stayed healthy in Spring Training, and he was able to secure the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

In 2013, he also was scheduled to be the second starter. But in his final Spring Training outing, the righty experienced discomfort in his throwing shoulder, which landed him on the DL.

The shoulder inflammation kept Eovaldi on the DL until June. When he returned, he showed why he is so highly regarded.

Eovaldi boasts one of the hardest fastballs in the Majors. In fact, according to Fangraphs.com, for all starting pitchers with at least 100 innings last year, Eovaldi's average fastball velocity of 96.2 mph was the fastest.

Eovaldi is 1-2 with a 3.22 ERA in four starts in his career against Colorado.

All through Spring Training, the Marlins preached that it will take more than velocity to get hitters out. Also, Miami's young staff is not a mystery any more. The rest of the league knows them better and will have a better plan of attack.

The solution?

"It's always about executing pitches for me," Eovaldi said. "It's just executing your pitches and doing the small things right. Have better at-bats for us. Get the bunts down. Fielding your position. Do all the little things right.

"The Braves last year, their pitchers were able to execute at the plate. They got the bunts down when they needed to, to get the runner over. The key is to execute and give your team the best chance to win. To pitch not just five, but make it through seven innings, help the bullpen out."

Rockies: No hard feelings
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez took a long look and admired the sixth-inning home run he hit to deep center field off Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez in Monday's game. Later after Fernandez left the game, he yelled to Gonzalez out on the field.

It turns out there were no hard feelings, no accusations of running afoul of unwritten rules. Fernandez is every bit as willing to celebrate his accomplishments as Gonzalez is.

"When he gets you, he's going to let you know, and I'll do the same thing to him," Gonzalez said. "It was nothing like he was mad at me. He said, 'You got me this time.'

"He's a good guy, a good kid. He loves the game. He has passion and that's the way he shows it. He talks. He smiles when he's pitching. I don't have a problem with him. When he pitches good, he's smiling, he's talking to himself, like, 'You can't hit that pitch.' And when you get him, he doesn't get mad."

Marlins: Run support feels good
The 10-run outburst on Monday night was a welcome sight for the Marlins, who finished last in the Majors in most significant offensive categories last year. Just four times in '13 did they score as many as 10 runs.

"That's where we struggled as a team last year, getting the run support," said Fernandez, who was the beneficiary on Monday night. "Obviously, these guys can hit. I said it when we went to Spring Training. I think we have a good team. The relationships are amazing. We're always joking around, it's fun. It's so much different than last year."

Worth noting
• The Rockies and the Marlins are 11-11 on Opening Days. The two entered the National League together in 1993.

• It took the Marlins three games to score their first run last year when they opened at Washington. In fact, they managed a total of one run in their first three games. Miami scored 10 on Monday night.

• Fernandez's nine strikeouts on Monday matched a Marlins record for Opening Day. In 2004, Josh Beckett fanned nine against Montreal.

• In five career starts on Opening Day, Gonzalez is 12-for-24 (.500) with two home runs, two doubles, two RBIs and five runs scored.

• The Marlins' Casey McGehee drove in four runs Monday, matching his career high.

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