Beating Yanks sweet for Bronx native Koehler

Beating Yanks sweet for Bronx native Koehler

MIAMI -- Prior to his seven-inning gem in which he allowed just one run in a 2-1 win against the Yankees on Monday, Marlins starter Tom Koehler, a Bronx native, wasn't sure how he would feel facing his childhood team.

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"I thought going into the game, since it's a different Yankee team that I grew up watching, that maybe the adrenaline and the nerves wouldn't be there," he said. "But they were."

The feelings certainly didn't unnerve the 28-year-old, though.

Outdueling Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka, Koehler (5-4, 3.76 ERA) held New York to just three hits on 101 pitches. He made just one mistake -- a second-inning home run to Mark Teixeira -- and struck out five while walking two.

"I know I say the same word every time, but he's just gritty and he's gutty and he battles through," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "He had his curveball working out there and worked both sides of the plate. He grinded through seven innings and gave us everything he had."

Hechavarria flashes the leather

As did his defense. While shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made a couple of nice plays -- including a high leaping grab on Chase Headley's sixth-inning liner -- second baseman Dee Gordon sent Koehler out in style.

With two outs and a runner on first in the seventh, Gordon ranged far to his left on Mason Williams' grounder in the first-base hole, made a sliding stop and threw him out by a step as Koehler pumped his fist. That kept the score tied until Miami third baseman Derek Dietrich hit the decisive home run in the bottom half of the seventh.

"Words can't explain how I feel about the way those middle infielders played defense today," Koehler said. "Hech made two great plays and then Dee just didn't want to be outdone there, so he made a spectacular play there in the seventh. Just a solid team win."

It was a bounce-back win for the righty, who was coming off a loss at Toronto on Wednesday. It was sealed during an eighth inning in which Carter Capps struck out the side and a ninth in which closer A.J. Ramos retired pinch-hitter Alex Rodriguez to end the game.

Even more, it was a particularly personal victory for Koehler against the team he used to cheer on.

"I grew up eight miles from [old Yankee Stadium], and my dad grew up across the street as a kid," he said. "Towards the end, he was a New York cop and he did a lot of ticket scalping and detail stuff, so we got to see a lot of games growing up.

"It was fun," he added.

Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.