MIAMI -- With each passing game, the Marlins are learning more about Garrett Cooper. What they’ve discovered in June is that the 28-year-old is effective when using the whole field.
Cooper collected three opposite-field singles and scored two runs Saturday in the Marlins’ 4-3 comeback victory over the Pirates at Marlins Park.
Riding an eight-game hitting streak, and reaching safely in 14 straight games, Cooper has been a constant in a Miami lineup that has had its issues scoring runs.
Cooper has shown the ability to produce to all sides of the field. Including his three singles to right Saturday, Cooper is hitting .769 (10-for-13) to the opposite field this month, according to Statcast.
“If they're trying to shift me on the pull side on the infield, I'm going to do everything I can to work the other way,” Cooper said. “As a big guy, you try to get your hands extended. If they're going to keep pitching me that way, I'm going to keep shooting balls that way.”
Cooper has used that approach more effectively in June. Before that, from Opening Day to May 31, he was hitting .357 (5-for-14) to the opposite field, per Statcast.
“Obviously, he's shown he's dangerous, too, with the long ball,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Coop, we've always liked the hit tool. He uses the whole field. He's kind of an inside-out guy.”
Hitting .310 on the season, Cooper has six home runs, and 20 RBIs. He’s also hit two grand slams this year, including one to left-center on Wednesday in a 9-0 win over the Cardinals at Marlins Park.
“Recently, he's hit some balls out front a little bit,” Mattingly said, like Wednesday's slam. “Tonight, he went the other way.”
The Marlins are now 2-6 in the homestand, but have a chance to take this series Sunday in the finale.
Blanked 11-0 in the series opener on Friday, Miami snapped a string of 12 straight scoreless innings when Cooper singled in the fourth inning and scored on Harold Ramirez’s RBI knock.
The Marlins trailed by three heading into the fourth inning, but Cooper started the three-run frame with his second hit of the game off right-hander Dario Agrazal, who made his MLB debut.
“We had a meeting before the game, our hitters' meeting,” Cooper said. “[Friday], they jumped on us early. ... It kind of got away from us, and we got away from our approach.”
Pablo Lopez worked seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
“He mixed in his changeup really well,” Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier said of Lopez. “He kept us off balance with that, and missed some barrels. Got out of jams when he had to. Hats off to him.”
In the fifth inning, the Marlins took the lead as Cooper singled to right, went to third on Brian Anderson's double and scored on Starlin Castro’s groundout.
“The guys scoring some runs was a turning point,” Lopez said. “They always have my back defensively and offensively. I know they're trying to do everything they can to put some runs on the board.”