Marcell Ozuna isn’t putting up the power numbers some thought he would after what he accomplished in the minors, but the 22-year-old rookie is still proving early on in his big-league career that he’s pretty clutch.
After picking up the game-winning RBI in wins over the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants on Thursday and Friday of last week to snap out of his funk at the plate, Ozuna delivered two more big hits Tuesday night.
He drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a bases-loaded single to center in the sixth, then brought in a big insurance run in the eighth with a double off the wall in center as the Marlins rallied past the Twins 4-2 on Tuesday night in front of an announced crowd of 14,581 at Marlins Park.
“He’s given us exactly what we needed in the middle of that order,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He had been scuffling a little bit on that road trip and really just needed a big hit, and he got it in that game-winner in San Francisco. It’s really been a turning point for him, confidence-wise.”
Miami, coming off its first winning road trip of the season, has now won 12 of its past 21 games dating to May 31. The Marlins (26-50) close out their brief two-game set with the Twins (34-39) on Wednesday. The game is an early 12:40 p.m. start.
Tuesday’s come-from-behind win — aided by a seventh inning solo home run by rookie Derek Dietrich — was the 14th of the season for the Marlins and the ninth this month.
“I think you see a different attitude out there,” Redmond said. “You see confidence in our players and our guys. They feel like somebody is going to get a big hit at any time. You look back [Tuesday], Dietrich’s big at-bat, [Logan] Morrison’s big at-bat. That’s a good sign.”
Rookie Jose Fernandez was in line for the loss before his teammates rallied Tuesday. Despite giving up just four hits and one earned run, the 20-year-old right-hander worked just five innings, battling control issues. He walked three, struck out three and threw 94 pitches. Only 59 went for strikes as he had his shortest outing this month.
“My stuff was horrible and I was trying to battle through it,” said Fernandez, who added he could not throw a breaking ball for a strike through the first four innings. “For me, it was really a learning experience out there, and I learned a lot from it. “
A.J. Ramos, who pitched two innings of scoreless relief with two strikeouts in the sixth and seventh, earned the win. Steve Cishek picked up his 13th save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.
But the story Tuesday was Ozuna. He only received credit for one RBI on his first hit off Twins starter Kevin Correia because Clete Thomas bobbled his grounder to center, allowing Giancarlo Stanton, who had slowed up at third, to score the go-ahead run.
Ozuna’s second hit — a line drive off Josh Roenicke — was a no-doubt liner to center that easily scored Morrison, who doubled before him.
Ozuna has now produced a team-leading 21 hits with runners in scoring position, raising his average to an eye-opening .438 in those situations this season.
“I was thinking too much the last two weeks and swinging at every pitch, uncomfortable in the zone, swinging at sliders in the dirt,” Ozuna said.
“When I faced Tim Lincecum in San Fran, I hit a pop up to second. [Placido] Polanco told me to start thinking about the middle away, and I changed my approach and drove in the winning run. Now I’m concentrating in the middle of the zone. I have a better approach.”