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What drought? Dean keys Marlins' power show

@JoeFrisaro
April 13, 2019

MIAMI -- Producing any runs, let alone belting home runs, has been hard to come by for the Marlins. But in the third inning on Saturday night, a bunch of pent-up offensive frustration was unleashed against a right-hander who had entered the game sporting a 0.75 ERA. Brian Anderson, Neil

MIAMI -- Producing any runs, let alone belting home runs, has been hard to come by for the Marlins. But in the third inning on Saturday night, a bunch of pent-up offensive frustration was unleashed against a right-hander who had entered the game sporting a 0.75 ERA.

Brian Anderson, Neil Walker and Austin Dean each homered off Zach Eflin in a four-run third inning that powered the Marlins to a 10-3 victory over the Phillies at Marlins Park.

“I think everybody did their part today, and that was just a really fun game,” said Dean, who was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Friday. “Before I got here, we were struggling a little bit, and I know that's not us, at all. I really do. I know we're going to be a really good team this year.”

The Marlins snapped their five-game losing streak, a stretch in which they were outscored 34-5.

“Really, kind of the reward for them,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I know they've been battling and fighting.”

Even after Friday’s 9-1 loss in the series opener, Mattingly sensed the quality of the at-bats was better, and things finally clicked at the plate on Saturday.

“I thought the energy was better last night,” Mattingly said. “Our at-bats were better last night. All of a sudden, we get a little bit of a breakout game. Hopefully it's something that helps us turn the corner and get down the road.”

The long ball has been almost nonexistent in the early going. The Marlins entered the night 25th in the Majors in homers with just 12 in 14 games. They also ranked last in runs scored with 34, before putting up a season-high 10 on Saturday.

Dean, in his second game since being called up from Triple-A New Orleans, had career highs in both hits (four) and RBIs (five). He was a triple shy of a cycle. Initially, Dean was credited with a two-run triple in the seventh inning, but an official scorer’s change after the game revised it to a double, with Dean taking third on the throw to the plate.

“Hitting is contagious,” Dean said. “You see teams out there. When teams start hitting, everybody is hitting. I think if we get on a good roll, I think we really have a good team here.”

Dean is the third regular right fielder the Marlins have used this season after Garrett Cooper (left calf strain) was placed on the injured list, and O’Brien was optioned to Triple-A.

“He's excited about being here,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, these guys are fighting to get here, and get your career going. He comes up last year after being the organizational Player of the Year for us last year. He was OK. He had some good moments, but it wasn't great. Then to have a good spring -- he probably came into spring and had high hopes.

Handed a sizable lead, left-hander Caleb Smith was dialed in against the Phillies, yielding one hit in six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and three walks.

Smith was the beneficiary of something that had been drastically lacking -- run support. The three-homer third inning provided the needed spark.

It started with Anderson jumping on Eflin’s first-pitch curveball, which was crushed over the center-field wall, and projected by Statcast to travel 435 feet with a 104.6 mph exit velocity. Walker followed with a blast to left-center that landed in the AutoNation Alley multi-tiered fan zone. The distance was 410 feet with an exit speed of 102.3 mph.

It was the first time the Marlins have gone back-to-back since Peter O’Brien and Isaac Galloway did so on Sept. 13 against the Mets. Four batters later, Dean tacked on a homer of his own, which traveled 406 feet and had an exit velocity of 105.8 mph.

It marked Miami's first three-homer inning since Sept. 20, 2017, when A.J. Ellis, Miguel Rojas and Giancarlo Stanton all went yard.

"It's something that I'll have to go back and look at," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Normally, I try to take pause before I try to identify exactly what was going on, just because we don't have the best angle from the dugout. But it was obvious that they knew where the sweet spot on the bat was."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.