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Marlins revel in challenge of facing Thor

Miami tags New York's elite pitcher for first three spring runs
Justin Bour hit a two-run homer off Noah Syndergaard on Monday. (AP)
March 13, 2017

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Marlins managed to do on Monday what no other team in the Grapefruit League has been able to do this Spring Training: Get to Mets ace Noah Syndergaard.Making his third start of the spring, Syndergaard entered the game untouched in his prior two outings,

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Marlins managed to do on Monday what no other team in the Grapefruit League has been able to do this Spring Training: Get to Mets ace Noah Syndergaard.
Making his third start of the spring, Syndergaard entered the game untouched in his prior two outings, tossing 4 1/3 innings of scoreless action. But despite a scoreless start through the first three frames, Miami used the heart of its lineup to tag the hard-throwing right-hander with three runs, all of them earned, in a fourth inning when the Marlins finally showed some life. Miami lost, 6-4.
Third baseman Derek Dietrich had his second consecutive strong at-bat after doubling off the right-field wall off Syndergaard in the first inning. Dietrich's hit came by turning on a 97-mph fastball from the tall flamethrower, who is battling bronchitis. However, in the fourth, it was fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches and working a walk that started the big inning.
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"That at-bat's not as sexy," said Dietrich, laughing. "I was actually happier with that at-bat, personally, than the double. … To work an eight- or nine-pitch walk like that, then score a run, to be able to see all of his pitches and put some good swings on them and work a walk always lets me know I'm seeing it well, which I am. I was happy with that at-bat."
Dietrich said it was "absolutely" good to see Syndergaard in midseason form. New York's Opening Day starter has hit 99 mph on the radar gun in his previous starts.
"He's one of the elite pitchers in our division, and a guy we'll see a lot. Just a couple of weeks into Spring Training, it's good to be able to put quality at-bats in against him. It just adds to the confidence of our team, and it's a good test for us," Dietrich said.
Justin Bour hit a two-run homer to right field onto the berm after Marcell Ozuna doubled in Dietrich to tie the game at 3. Bour was robbed on his first at-bat by a head-first sliding grab of a liner caught by left fielder Tim Tebow.
"I just need to stay away from No. 97 out there," Bour said, citing Tebow's uniform number. "I'm just fortunate that it wasn't a TV game, so I don't have to watch over and over again like that Bartolo Colon catch behind his back. ... I see that every day."
Bour said it was good to face Syndergaard's good stuff, which is par for the course for the Mets' staff.
"Any time you come over and face any of the Mets -- really, it doesn't matter which guy it is -- you're going to have to have your A game and lock it in early and be ready to go," Bour said.
"[Dietrich's] at-bat was good, and we followed it up with Ozuna having a good at-bat," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. JB had a good at-bat. We've had really better at-bats over the last 10 days, so you can tell we're getting closer to being ready. We still have a long way to go."

Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Marlins on Monday.