Better late than never.
The Marlins came alive in crunch time, rallying for four runs in the ninth inning to beat the Giants 5-2 Saturday night at Oracle Park.
“Not really a must win at this point in the year, but it’s one of those games you want to get back on track,” said manager Don Mattingly.
Jesús Aguilar generated the much-needed jolt with his second homer in as many nights, roping a go-ahead two-run home run off San Francisco's Gregory Santos.
Miami continued to tack on insurance runs from there -- Garrett Cooper’s loud opposite-field single chased Santos from the game, Corey Dickerson tripled to knock in Cooper and Jon Berti tacked on one more run for good measure, driving in Dickerson with a sacrifice fly.
“I knew [Santos] was a power pitcher,” Aguilar said. “I knew he had a pretty good fastball so I tried to be aggressive, but not be overly aggressive.”
Following his awe-inspiring long ball, Aguilar revealed that, much to the dismay of clean eaters everywhere, #ArugulaPower is no more.
Aguilar said he has removed the vegetable from his diet, and with his power beginning to return, the change seems to be a permanent one -- at least for now.
“After 60 at-bats without a home run, I’m back to arepas and all those things from Venezuela,” Aguilar said.
The Marlins’ late rally juxtaposed their performance at the plate over the first eight innings, when runs were at a premium.
Before the ninth inning rolled around, Miami only generated two hits and one run off Kevin Gausman, who tied his career high with 11 strikeouts. The only semblance of offense came from Jon Berti, whose solo shot in the seventh inning tied the game.
While part of Miami’s early struggles could be attributed to Gausman, there was also an element of poor luck.
Cooper was robbed of extra bases in the second after Austin Slater made a leaping catch at the center-field wall. Sandy León missed a home run by several feet, flying out to the center-field warning track in the third. And Aguilar had a hit taken away from him by Tommy La Stella, who made a diving stop in the fourth.
Aguilar summarized the state of Miami’s offense after striking out swinging to end the sixth inning, tossing his bat to the ground, removing his shin guard in disgust and slamming his helmet hard enough for the sound to reverberate throughout the stadium.
Those frustrations would soon be quelled. Before Aguilar and company’s heroics in the ninth, Berti ensured Pablo López wouldn’t be the tough-luck loser with his homer in the seventh.
“As soon as I hit it, I thought I had a pretty good chance, but you never know with that wind up there if it’s going to pull it back or not, or keep pushing it forward,” Berti said.
Two innings later, Aguilar joined in on the fun, but not before Magneuris Sierra drew his second walk of the night. Sierra’s contributions were not limited to the plate, as the center fielder made a diving play to rob Gausman of a hit in the sixth.
Aguilar, whose home run had a game-high exit velocity of 110.6 mph, per Statcast, initially thought his blast was going to be a double because of the low launch angle. But the ball had enough carry to find the bleachers in less than five seconds.
Not to be outdone by the offense’s late awakening was López, who pitched phenomenally against the Giants in his second consecutive outing. Across six innings, López struck out seven and allowed just one earned run on two hits and one walk.
López and Gausman went blow-for-blow to begin the game as neither starter allowed a hit through four innings.
Coincidentally enough, both no-hit bids were ended in the fifth inning by a Dickerson. Corey Dickerson broke up Gausman’s no-hit bit with a single, while Alex Dickerson broke the Giants into the hit column with an opposite-field double.
“It was really a pitchers' duel until the seventh inning,” Gausman said. “You’ve got to give him credit. His changeup was really nasty tonight. I just think our guys had a hard time.”