ST. LOUIS -- Maybe Marcell Ozuna is beginning to break out.The outfielder put the Cardinals ahead early in Saturday's 3-2 walk-off win against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, swatting a solo home run to the greenery beyond the center-field wall in the second inning against Chad Kuhl.The 109.8-mph rocket was
ST. LOUIS -- Maybe Marcell Ozuna is beginning to break out.
The outfielder put the Cardinals ahead early in Saturday's 3-2 walk-off win against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, swatting a solo home run to the greenery beyond the center-field wall in the second inning against Chad Kuhl.
The 109.8-mph rocket was one of three balls Ozuna hit in excess of 100 mph on the day, marking his first home run at Busch Stadium as a member of the Cardinals, and the 100th of his career.
"My family came to the game today. With my family here I play really, really different," Ozuna said. "I give all the credit to them and to God."
Mired in a season-long slump that saw his slash line dip to .265/.312/.340 by first pitch, Ozuna has spent much of the past two months searching for the power that earned him a Silver Slugger Award a year ago. It was his final swing Friday night that had manager Mike Matheny predicting he might soon find it, when Ozuna lined out to the right-center-field wall late in a 4-0 loss.
To Matheny, Ozuna's ability to drive the ball the other way showed progress after weeks of spinning off the ball. Ozuna has seen his ground-ball rate spike a year after hitting 37 home runs for the Marlins; the slugger actually leads the National League in infield hits after managing another Saturday.
"Were not preaching launch angle or getting the ball in the air all the time, but obviously he needs a little more of that," Matheny said on Friday. "When you're getting 100-mph, 105-mph off the barrel and its landing 10 feet in front of the plate, you get that he's real close to turning that into damage. It's just a click off. It's frustrating for him because he knows how close it is."
Ozuna's homer Saturday was his fourth of the season, and first in 17 games.
"I've been trying to do too much," Ozuna said. "I was trying to show my teammates all of what I have. And when I do that, that's when things go down hill."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.