Luzardo continues dominance of Marlins’ starting pitchers in shutouts of Mets

Jesus Luzardo grew up a fan of Juan Pierre. Christian Scott remembers watching Jose Fernandez throw as a “mind-blowing” experience.

Friday night, Luzardo and Scott, two pitchers who grew up in nearby Parkland —about a 45-minute drive northwest of loanDepot park — and starred as high schoolers in Broward County, faced off as opposing starters in the Marlins-Mets series opener.

While Scott, who played at Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale and then the University of Florida, didn’t have his best stuff in his third Major League start for the Mets, Luzardo was superb for a Marlins staff that’s been stunningly dominant the past three games.

The former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High standout allowed five hits in six innings and struck out seven in the 8-0 win — the Marlins’ third consecutive shutout win and fourth win in five games overall.

Marlins pitchers haven’t allowed a run in consecutive 28 innings, and starters have combined for 23 2/3 scoreless innings over the past four games.

“It’s a great run,” Luzardo said. “It took awhile into the season for us to get going, but it’s something we all knew we had in us. The staff was highly regarded going into this year and we’re finally understanding and feeling each other out — feeling the rotation out, the team out. You want to do that from Day 1, but better late than never. We’re rolling now and trying to keep it going.”

The Marlins posted three consecutive shutout victories twice previously in franchise history — most recently Aug. 17-19, 2005 — but no Marlins catcher had been behind the plate for all three shutouts until Nick Fortes this week.

“It’s a really cool accomplishment, and it’s the No. 1 priority of my job, so I take a lot of pride in that,” Fortes said.

Anthony Bender, Burch Smith, and Anthony Maldonado each pitched an inning in relief Friday after Luzardo followed up last Saturday’s return from the injured list, in which he allowed two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies, with an even better performance.

“Zeus, he has to be on the attack, and when he’s on the attack, he’s really, really good in the strike zone,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said of the left-hander. “The changeup was his pitch tonight and it was super effective.”

“It was huge,” Luzardo said of his changeup. “Usually, I lean on it a little bit, but not as much as I did tonight. It was my go-to pitch and got me out of a lot of bad counts and jams.”

Luzardo, who allowed one run in 13 innings and struck out 15 in two starts against the Mets last season, punched his glove in celebration after consecutive strikeouts of Tomas Nido and Tyrone Taylor to end the top of the fifth with runners stranded at the corners. He also struck out the last two Mets he faced in the fourth.

“He just looks refreshed off of his IL stint,” Fortes said. “He came back ready. His fastball command is probably the best I’ve seen in a long, long time and that really helps him control both sides of the plate. And with his slider and his change-up, he’s had three elite weapons the past two starts.”

Luzardo benefited from some key defensive plays, notably a spectacular diving catch from hard-charging center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the sixth. He also got support at the plate, including from an unlikely source — Fortes.

After snapping a five-game hitless streak with a single Wednesday at Detroit, Fortes launched a 1-1 pitch from Scott in the second inning for a three-run home run. Fortes said Luzardo predicted his 396-foot shot to left field.

“Right before the at-bat, he said, ‘You’ll get a home run off this guy today,’ Fortes recalled, adding with a laugh, “He must have felt something.”

Scott pitched four innings Friday, allowing four runs — all in the second inning — on seven hits. In the fourth, the rookie right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam unscathed by getting Bryan De La Cruz to fly out to shortstop and Josh Bell to ground into a fielder’s choice.

Still, his performance wasn’t on par with his debut May 4 at Tampa Bay, when he allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings, or last Saturday’s start at home against Tampa (three runs allowed in six innings).

“The way he carries himself and the way he goes about his business, I don’t think the moment is ever too big for him,” said Mets manager Carlos Mendoza.

Luzardo said he and Scott never faced each other before Friday, but “I remember him as a kid growing up. He’d be there when I was working with my pitching coach.”

Luzardo added, “It’s cool to see. He’s a great kid and he’s going to be really good. I was just happy to see him out there.