Run-starved Marlins may give Bour more ABs vs. LHPs

July 1st, 2016

ATLANTA -- Justin Bour is giving the Marlins something to think about.

The left-handed-hitting first baseman belted a three-run homer, drew two walks and scored twice on Thursday in Miami's 8-5 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. The way he's producing batting behind Giancarlo Stanton is making it hard to keep him out of the lineup.

For much of the season, manager Don Mattingly has started Bour against right-handers and Chris Johnson against lefties. That may change.

"J.B. has been good," Mattingly said. "You get to the point where you start thinking you may have to start playing him with lefties and things like that. He's been swinging it good. He's been good defensively. He's been good for us."

Bour's homer off Mike Foltynewicz in the second inning put Miami in front by three runs. The lead was short-lived, but the blast boosted Bour's home run total to 15, and he now has a team-high 46 RBIs.

Marcell Ozuna paces the club with 16 home runs and has 44 RBIs. Stanton is at 15 homers and 40 RBIs.

The trio gives the club a formidable middle of the order.

But Bour hasn't had steady playing time against lefties, and in limited action against them, he's 5-for-22 (.227) with one double and two RBIs.

Overall, his slash line is .269/.347/.534, and his 26 walks are third on the club behind Christian Yelich (37) and Stanton (34).

In the ninth inning, Bour's second walk kept Miami alive, and it almost led to a comeback. He reached with two outs and no one on against closer Arodys Vizcaino. Miami then threatened as J.T. Realmuto walked, and Adeiny Hechavarria delivered an RBI double. Mauricio Cabrera replaced Vizcaino, and with two on, pinch-hitter Cole Gillespie lined out sharply to left field. That ball was close to being in the gap, which would have plated two more runs.

"There's no one really giving away at-bats," Bour said. "It doesn't matter what the score is. They all count the same. It doesn't matter what the situation is. It's just important that everyone takes every single at-bat seriously and doesn't throw them away. You never know with this offense that we have when a small at-bat will turn into something big."

The bigger issue of late for the club is stranding runners. It has been a constant in their three-game losing skid, which included two setbacks at Detroit. In that series, the Marlins left 24 on. On Thursday it was 13.

"That's really been one of our issues, runs," Mattingly said. "We've been able to put up a lot of hits. We just haven't been able to put up a lot of runs. He's a guy who can do that for us."