Thinking of Jose, Ozuna has career night

Slugger homers twice, drives in 6 runs after reflecting on late teammate

April 11th, 2017

MIAMI -- As he stood on the third-base line during player introductions on Tuesday night at Marlins Park, reflected on Opening Day 2014. That was his first opener as a big leaguer, and was on the mound.

After reminiscing, Ozuna let his bat doing the talking. The 26-year-old left fielder belted two home runs and drove in six runs in the Marlins' 8-4 win over the Braves.

Ozuna matched his career high for homers in a game, and he set a personal mark with his six RBIs.

Emotionally, Ozuna was driven and energized. He thought about Fernandez, his close friend who died in a boating accident last September.

Although Ozuna was called up to the big leagues in 2013, it was in late April. He was in the lineup on Opening Day for the first time in '14, and Fernandez was on the mound that day in a 10-1 win over the Rockies.

"Once I stepped on the line, I was thinking of that day," Ozuna said. "Jose was the starter against Colorado. [Tonight] I said, 'Let's go, brother! You helped me out. I'm going to play for you always.'"

Ozuna blasted an opposite-field, three-run home run in the third off , and in the fifth inning, he went deep again, launching a two-run shot to left off Mike Foltynewicz.

Ozuna's homers followed his sacrifice fly in a three-run first inning. The slugger also went deep twice on June 20, 2016, at Colorado.

Before Tuesday, Ozuna was just 3-for-19 in his career off Colon.

"I was focused on hitting the ball [to right]," Ozuna said of his homer off Colon. "I trusted myself and trusted my ability, and that happened."

Miami's single-game RBI mark is seven, held by four players -- Greg Colbrunn (July 18, 1995), (May 5, 2013), (Sept. 11, 2006) and Gary Sheffield (Sept. 18, 1995). Ozuna previously had a high of five RBIs, done twice -- May 21, 2014 and Aug. 22, 2014.

In the third inning, Ozuna went the opposite way, and according to Statcast™, his homer off Colon was estimated at 401 feet with an exit velocity of 106.4 mph. And in the fifth inning, he lifted a towering drive to left, which traveled a projected 394 feet with an exit velocity of 107.2 mph.

"[Foltynewicz] got the ball up and Ozuna put a really good swing on it," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He pulled his hands in and he's a strong dude. That hurt too. We were coming back in that game. Those are big runs right there. He's a good player and a really dangerous hitter."