PHOENIX -- After making striking first impressions with the Marlins, rookies Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich are now mired in prolonged slumps that proved costly Wednesday.
Heath Bell, his back pinned against the ropes in the ninth inning when the Marlins were threatening a comeback, squirmed out of the predicament when he was able to retire Ozuna and Dietrich with runners on first and second and no outs, then struck out pinch-hitter Logan Morrison to end the game.
Ozuna flied out to right. Dietrich fouled out to the catcher. And Bell held on for the save in a 3-1 Arizona victory over the Marlins.
“I thinking they’re getting out of their zones a little bit, swinging at pitches outside the zone, which is what happens sometimes with young guys,” manager Mike Redmond said of the two struggling rookies.
Ozuna is now 2 for his past 29. Dietrich has only four hits to show for his past 26 at-bats. Redmond said it’s not just a matter of them not hitting. Their at-bats haven’t been productive by any definition.
“I think sometimes the focus can get on getting hits instead of having good at-bats and a good approach,” Redmond said. “Guys focus too much on the result, and in turn swing at pitches they’re not normally used to swinging at — or the opposite, where they’re passive. With young players, that’s kind of the growing pains.”
Though he hasn’t logged nearly as many innings behind the plate as most full-time catchers, the Marlins’ Jeff Mathis leads the majors in caught stealing percentage.
Mathis has thrown out 64 percent (9 of 14) of runners attempting to steal. His latest victim: Arizona’s Gerardo Parra in Wednesday’s third inning. Entering play Wednesday, Cincinnati’s Ryan Hannigan ranked second to Mathis with a 56 percent success rate.
Mathis’ best season throwing out runners came with Toronto in 2012, when he threw out 41 percent of them.
There is now proof that no player in the majors hits the ball as hard as Giancarlo Stanton. According to data provided by Fox Sports, Stanton is now the undisputed king of scorch.
Of the 10 hardest-hit balls through Sunday 16, four were blistered by Stanton, including the two hardest smashes: a single April 25 that was clocked at 114 mph and a double-play grounder April 23 that also registered 114 mph.
According to Eric Esteban at Fox Sports Florida, the data is provided by SportsVision and is “based on proven PITCH f/x tracking technology” that “tracks” the initial speed of the ball off the bat. The current league average hit speed is 77 mph.
• Thursday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (0-5, 5.09) at San Francisco Giants RHP Chad Gaudin (2-1, 2.83), 10:15 p.m., AT&T Park.
• Friday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (4-7, 3.61) at Giants RHP Tim Lincecum (4-7, 4.57), 10:15 p.m., AT&T Park.
• Scouting report: Though they’ve fared poorly throughout the years (29-48 all-time) in San Francisco, the Marlins have done well there recently. The Marlins have won their past seven games at AT&T Park.