Marlins Park brings out slugger in Amarista
For 2nd straight year, Padres shortstop hits clutch homer in Miami
MIAMI -- There's something about late-game heroics and Marlins Park that brings out the best in Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista.
For the second successive year, Amarista -- hardly a prodigious power hitter -- provided a little late-game thunder, though it ultimately went for naught as the Marlins defeated the Padres, 5-2, on Adeiny Hechavarria's walk-off three-run home run.
But the Padres, tied in knots by Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who struck out 10 in six shutout innings, got back in the game with a long ball from the 5-foot-6 Amarista.
With one on and one out in the ninth inning, Amarista turned on a 3-1 fastball from reliever A.J. Ramos, sending it just over the wall in right field for a game-tying blast.
On April 6, 2014, Amarista came off the bench to hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning of a 4-2 victory over the Marlins. That hit occurred on his birthday.
"He packs some punch for a little guy," Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said.
The home run on Sunday -- and a triple in the fifth inning -- lifted his average up to .201. Amarista has struggled and, possibly, been a little unlucky as he has a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .225.
"I've been swinging the bat better. Not much luck, but that's something I can't let affect me," he said. "You have to try to get a good at-bat every time. It's not how you start, it's how you finish. I don't care about the average."
The Padres would love to see Amarista start getting on base more. While the team didn't go out and acquire a shortstop before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, they could still be looking for one in August.
Amarista's leadoff triple in the fifth put the Padres 90 feet away from getting a run with Fernandez's pitch count running high. But the next three batters were unable to plate Amarista. The Padres also loaded the bases in the first inning with two outs, but they couldn't score until Amarista provided his third homer of the season in the ninth.
"Alexi had been hitting some balls hard, having them caught," Murphy said. "… We kept telling him it was a matter of time. He was a little discouraged. But he had a big triple and the home run to tie it up. It's a matter of him keeping his confidence level up."