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Ozuna goes boom as Marlins beat Rockies

June 19, 2016

MIAMI -- Marcell Ozuna picked an opportune time to heat up at home. The 25-year-old center fielder blasted a three-run homer that powered the Marlins to a 3-0 win over the Rockies on Sunday at Marlins Park.Ozuna, who had three hits on the day, had been 2-for-27 in his last

MIAMI -- Marcell Ozuna picked an opportune time to heat up at home. The 25-year-old center fielder blasted a three-run homer that powered the Marlins to a 3-0 win over the Rockies on Sunday at Marlins Park.
Ozuna, who had three hits on the day, had been 2-for-27 in his last nine home games. With two outs in the sixth inning, Ozuna delivered a no-doubt, three-run shot off Miguel Castro, who entered for rookie Tyler Anderson.
The Marlins have taken the first three in their four-game series with the Rockies, and at 37-32 are five games over .500 for the first time since May 8, 2014 (20-15). Combined with the Mets' loss to the Braves, Miami is now in second place in the National League East.
Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler struck out six and walked six over six innings, but he allowed just two hits. The Rockies stranded seven with the Miami starter on the mound. 
"This was one that probably felt closer to 120 [pitches]," Koehler said. "Normally with 90 pitches, you're fighting to go back out there, and you probably wouldn't even ask me if I was going back. But today was a grind from the beginning. Not the best I've thrown the baseball, but I was able to make some big pitches when I needed to."
Outside of a six-run, five-hit inning during Saturday's 9-6 loss, the Rockies have had five hits in 26 innings at Marlins Park.
"We'll get it right offensively," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We've struggled here [in Miami] to score runs. That's certainly been the case this series. Koehler has thrown the ball well against us several times."
Ozuna leaves no doubt: After taking a 95-mph fastball for ball two in the sixth inning, Ozuna was ready for more heat from Castro on a hitter-friendly 2-0 count. Castro again fired a 95-mph fastball that Ozuna was on time for and crushed for a three-run homer to left-center. The blast broke the scoreless gridlock. Statcast™ projected the shot at 421 feet with an exit velocity of 109 mph. Ozuna paces the club with 13 home runs, one more than Giancarlo Stanton.
"Walt goes with the righty there, understanding [Ozuna] had a couple hits off the lefty. We had the right guy there at the right time," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "That was good. The other guy I look at in that situation was [Derek Dietrich's] at-bat and then Martin [Prado]'s hit. He had been hitting the ball good all day, and that hit kind of puts their guy in harm's way of [Christian Yelich] and Marcell. I thought that was a big hit." More >

Did his part: The left-handed Anderson fashioned his second solid start in as many Major League outings when he held the Marlins to four hits and struck out four in 5 2/3 innings. The last of Anderson's 102 pitches -- the most he has thrown in any professional game -- was an 88-mph cutter that struck out Yelich. Pushing Anderson's pitch count at this point would be problematic. He missed last season with a left elbow stress fracture he suffered late in 2014, plus had some shoulder fatigue during the comeback. He also missed the early part of this season with an oblique issue. So manager Walt Weiss replaced Anderson with Castro.
"You always want to stay in there and finish, but you've got to have faith in Castro -- Castro has done a heck of a job, and you expect him to come in and do well," Anderson said. "Sometimes it doesn't go that way.
"I felt good. I was throwing more balls than I would have liked to at that point, so I could see where they're coming from [with the decision to pull him]. As a competitor, whether you can or not, you always think you can stay in there. I was feeling good."

Koehler effectively wild: When Koehler issued an intentional walk to Daniel Descalso with two outs in the sixth inning, it was the right-hander's sixth free pass of the game. That set a personal high in 101 big league starts. The walk, however, didn't hurt him, because Koehler struck out Brandon Barnes, stranding runners on first and second and keeping the game scoreless. In his career, Koehler has walked at least five 10 times, with five this season. In six innings, Koehler gave up just two hits to go with his six walks. He also struck out six.
"He's a guy for me that's effectively wild," Mattingly said. "You're never quite sure what you're getting, where it's gonna be. He threw good sliders, the curveball got maybe [Carlos Gonzalez] twice and [Charlie] Blackmon early on. He was getting big outs with a lot of different stuff. He's a guy that's effectively wild all over the strike zone."

Painful growth: Castro, obtained from the Blue Jays as part of the deal that sent away shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, had a 1.50 ERA in six appearances before going to the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. His 10-game re-entry has been challenging and unpredictable. Six outings have been scoreless. The other five? Try seven runs and 11 hits, including two homers, in three innings. The first two pitches to Ozuna missed badly up and in, and his 95-mph fastball was ripe for a homer.
"You could tell the first slider he threw to Ozuna, it got away from him, arm side," Weiss said. "That happens from time to time with Castro. The stuff is electric, but you've got to get in good counts." More >
"It bounced off and I was like, 'Oh.' I was thinking there was no way he could put enough on the ball. He was back, almost on his knees, I think. When I saw it, I was like, 'He may have a shot right here.' That's one of those plays it should be on [highlight] shows. That's not only a good play, but a big play. You never know, if the guy gets on, a lot of things can happen from that point. It was huge." -- Miami closer A.J. Ramos, on a play catcher Jeff Mathis made, throwing out Trevor Story after he struck out in the ninth. Mathis had to retrieve the ball and complete a difficult throw to first.
The Marlins' defense had another game without an error. In fact, the club has committed just two errors in June, the fewest in the Majors. Since May 30 over their last 19 games, the Marlins have made just two errors.
Rockies: After struggling for six starts, lefty Jorge De La Rosa (3-4, 7.61 ERA) went to the bullpen to find his mechanics before returning with five scoreless innings against the Yankees in a June 14 start. He'll face the Marlins at 5:10 p.m. MT on Monday
Marlins:Paul Clemens, a non-roster invitee in Spring Training for the Marlins, will make his first big league start since Sept. 28, 2013. He was with the Astros facing the Yankees that day. The right-hander gets the nod at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday in the series finale with the Rockies. Clemens was 6-4 with a 4.30 ERA at Triple-A New Orleans before having his contract selected.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.