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Rare feat helps Turner put spring behind him

Rare feat helps Turner put spring behind him

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MIAMI -- Completing what you started has become a rarity in the big leagues.

On Saturday night, Jacob Turner experienced a first. The 22-year-old tossed his first big league complete game, and it also was the first time all season a Miami starter went the distance.

"I think so many young pitchers, those guys just get conditioned for six, seven innings, and they're gone," manager Mike Redmond said. "It just doesn't happen too many times nowadays where a guy has enough pitches to finish a game."

Indeed, complete games are not common, as nine teams in the Majors have not recorded one this year. The list includes the team with the best record, the Pirates, and the defending World Series champion Giants.

Atlanta, Baltimore, Colorado, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota and Tampa Bay were the remaining teams without a complete game through Saturday.

The Cardinals pace the big leagues with six, while the Dodgers, Phillies and Mariners follow with four.

Turner became an unlikely candidate to collect the Marlins' first of the season largely because he opened the year at Triple-A New Orleans. The right-hander was expected to be part of the rotation entering Spring Training. But he struggled in Grapefruit League games and with his mechanics, so he was sent down.

"I never pitched, but it's got to feel good, coming from where he did in Spring Training, and going out and finishing a Major League game with a big win," Redmond said.

One obvious benefit of a complete game is that it gives the bullpen a night off. It also boosts a pitcher's confidence, knowing he can record the final outs.

Through six starts, Turner's ERA lowered to 1.76. The last pitcher 22 or younger to toss 40 or more innings and have an ERA as low as Turner's over his first six starts of a season was Mark Prior, who posted a 1.67 ERA for the Cubs in 2003.

Turner had never gone past 7 2/3 innings before beating the Padres, 7-1, on Saturday. His 111 pitches are a season high and four behind his career most of 115 in five innings at the Mets on Sept. 21.

Turner had one walk and seven strikeouts in beating the Padres.

"I've always been able to pound the strike zone; that was always my biggest strength," Turner said. "It was unfortunate I wasn't able to do it in Spring Training. I think it made me a better pitcher to go down to Triple-A, and get all those things worked out and come back up here."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Less

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