MIAMI -- Ranked last in the Majors in home runs, one of the Marlins’ top offseason priorities is expected be infusing more power into their lineup. Still, on Wednesday, the club saw the impact that homers can bring, as back-to-back blasts in the fifth inning from Isan Diaz and Garrett
MIAMI -- Ranked last in the Majors in home runs, one of the Marlins’ top offseason priorities is expected be infusing more power into their lineup. Still, on Wednesday, the club saw the impact that homers can bring, as back-to-back blasts in the fifth inning from Isan Diaz and Garrett Cooper pulled them even with the Brewers.
But it was the two-homer game by the Brewers’ Mike Moustakas, including a towering two-run rocket off Jose Urena in the ninth inning, that handed Miami a 7-5 loss at Marlins Park.
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While the Marlins are playing catchup in the home run department, Diaz and Cooper are two potential threats. They flexed their muscle in the three-run fifth to knot the game at 5.
“I think that's what happens when you stick to your plan and put a good swing on the ball,” Diaz said. “I was very fortunate with that, brought some momentum to our side. We tried to keep it rolling, but we fell a little short tonight.”
Per Statcast, Diaz’s blast projected at 425 feet with a 103.2 mph exit velocity. Cooper’s drive also went to center, and it had an exit velocity of 106.1 mph. Diaz now has three homers since being promoted from Triple-A New Orleans on Aug. 5, and Cooper has 15.
“Stick to my plan and stick to what I know how to do, put the barrel on the ball,” Diaz said. “That's what I've been trying to stay really focused on.”
“Being [6-foot-5] and hitting in the middle of the lineup, you're expected to hit some homers,” Cooper said. ”You're expected to drive in some runs.”
However, the Brewers used three homers seal the series win. Trent Grisham homered off Pablo Lopez to open the game, and Moustakas added a three-run shot off Lopez in the third before his decisive two-run blast in the ninth.
“He's having a big year,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Moustakas. “He hurt us in Milwaukee a little bit. I think we left a changeup up the first time. I'm not sure if [Urena] was trying to go in. He's a pretty good fastball hitter.”
The Marlins now have 127 home runs on the season, which is the fewest in MLB. At spacious Marlins Park, Miami has 66 homers (27th in the league at home). The Marlins have gone back to back seven times, with the most recent coming on Aug. 24 (Starlin Castro and Jon Berti).
“I think the second half has been more of a learning curve for me, trying to drive the ball a little bit more,” Cooper said. “I think my hard-hit percentage is way up this half. You teeter on trying to get your hits, and you teeter on trying to drive the ball.”
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According to Statcast, since the All-Star break, Cooper entered Wednesday with 24 balls in play categorized either as barrels or solid contact. That’s tops on the team, ahead of Starlin Castro’s 23. In the first half, he had 17, even though he missed time on the injured list.
“As I learn myself as a hitter up here, I'm going to have to tap into a little more power, a little more fly balls,” Cooper said. “I think my percentage of ground balls is a little higher than what I'd want.”
Diaz connected off lefty Alex Claudio, his third big league shot and first off a lefty, and Cooper’s drive was off right-hander Jay Jackson. Diaz faced Claudio on Tuesday and grounded out.
“I'm just trying to make an adjustment. I saw him yesterday,” the rookie said. “I wasn't trying to do too much. Seeing him once, I'm trying to twist things around and try a different approach against Claudio there.”
Diaz and Cooper each tested the deepest part of expansive Marlins Park, depositing their respective blasts into the bushes in center field. According to Statcast, Marlins hitters have gone deep just 14 times to straightaway center, and Cooper has done it twice.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.