Marlins starter Tom Koehler may have seemed relaxed in his team's 8-4, 10-inning victory over the Mets Sunday, but his family in the stands wasn't.
Rolf Koehler was tense as he watched his son. Talking to him while Tom was on the mound wasn't permitted. And if you were any number of family members sitting next to Tom's dad, you could forget about going to the concession stands or changing seats. Only when his son's day was officially over did Rolf loosen up.
Xenija Koehler, one of Tom's two grandmothers in attendance, was quite different, teetering between nervousness and excitement throughout the day. She clapped her hands and waved them for both Koehler strikeouts and for every Marlins run; she also expressed frustration with every Koehler or Marlins mistake. And she never missed an opportunity to point out to nearby fans that her grandson was on the mound.
The 6-3, 235-pound righthander himself was cool and collected. In front of about 100 friends and family among the 21,747 in attendance, the 26-year-old from New Rochelle -- who played his college ball for Stony Brook and was selected in the 18th round of the 2008 draft -- overcame a rocky start to put together a respectable outing.
Koehler allowed four runs, six hits and a walk in seven innings, departed with his team trailing by a run and was taken off the hook when the Marlins tied it at 4-4 in the eighth.
"I'm real happy with how he pitched today," Rolf said. "We really are proud of what he did out there, going seven innings."
Koehler gave up a solo homer by Daniel Murphy that was hit virtually one-handed in the second inning, then struggled to locate his pitches in the following frame. Two singles sandwiched around a walk to Mets pitcher Jon Niese loaded the bases with none out. One out later, David Wright hit a long two-run double to center and Murphy made it 4-1 with a groundout, but Koehler reasserted himself, sensing he would have to go deep after Saturday's 20-inning game. In his final four innings, Koehler (0-4, 3.91 ERA) allowed only an infield single by Murphy.
"When he got down a little bit early, I was a little bit nervous for him," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said, "but he showed a lot of guts, and he went out there and continued to compete. He did his job and gave us a chance to win."
Though family and friends didn't see Koehler record his first major-league win, they did enjoy seeing him pick up his first major-league hit in 11 at-bats, a two-out single in the seventh on an 0-and-2 pitch from Niese.
"I was happy to get that over with," Koehler said. "Just to have that fan support, it's a really good feeling."