Justin Bour is turning into the smartest $12,500 investment the Marlins have ever made.
That’s the paltry amount the Marlins spent to acquire the burly first baseman when they plucked him out of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft, and Bour is paying dividends for them in a major way.
On Friday night, Bour blasted a crowd-quieting, three-run homer off Mets ace Matt Harvey in the fourth, and the Marlins made the lead stand up in a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets.
It was the second homer in as many games for Bour, who has softened the sting of the Marlins’ decision over the winter to fork out $16 million for free agent first baseman Michael Morse, who has done little so far to substantiate that figure.
Bour now has four homers and is hitting .361.
“He’s always been a hitter,” said manager Dan Jennings, who credited the team’s player development staff and former Double A manager Andy Barkett for spotting Bour when he was in the Cubs organization. “Certainly there’s power in that body.”
Ranking near Bour in best bang for the buck on the Marlins is pitcher Dan Haren, whose $10 million salary this season is being picked up by the Dodgers. He turned in another strong outing Friday to improve to 5-2.
Haren gave up a pair of solo homers to Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson, but little else as he cemented his status as the Marlins’ best starting pitcher so far this season.
“I didn’t feel great early on,” said Haren, whose fastball was topping out at 84 miles per hour in the early innings. “I told [pitching coach] Chuck Hernandez my leash probably needed to be a little shorter [Friday night].”
But Haren endured through seven innings.
Harvey was dominating at first. He needed just 10 pitches to strike out the side in the first and retired the first nine batters he faced.
But Dee Gordon bunted his way on to open the fourth, which drew boos from the crowd at Citi Field, and Martin Prado walked. Two batters later, Bour turned on a first-pitch slider, launching it on a hard drive just inside the fair pole in right.
“I tried to throw a slider backdoor, and it kind of spun over the middle and cost us the game, cost me the game,” Harvey said of the pitch to Bour.
Haren said Bour’s home run made him bear down even more.
“You never envision getting a three-run lead to Harvey, so when I got it, I was pretty determined to make it last,” Haren said.
After Duda homered in the fourth to make it 3-1, the Marlins got the run back in the fifth when Adeiny Hechavarria led off the inning with a single and came around to score on Prado’s two-out single.
Harvey has never enjoyed great success against the Marlins. In his six career starts against them, he is 1-2 with a 4.25 ERA.
“Anytime you beat a good pitcher like that, I think the team feels pretty good about it,” Haren said. “I feel good about it. Harvey’s unbelievable.”
There were reports after Harvey’s last start that he might be dealing with a “dead arm.” But he was pumping 98-mph fastballs at the Marlins.
“He’s got dead arm, and he’s throwing 98,” Haren said. “When I have dead arm, I’m throwing 80.”
It was up to the bullpen to protect the lead.
Sam Dyson took the mound in the eighth, only two days after failing to retire any of the four hitters he faced in Pittsburgh. But Dyson worked a 1-2-3 inning.
“It’s good to get back out there and shut down an inning,” Dyson said.
A.J. Ramos was brought in for the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Ruben Tejada. After striking out Duda, Ramos gave up a bloop double to Daniel Murphy that dropped into shallow left between Hechavarria and Christian Yelich and scored Tejada to make it 4-3.
Yelich’s knee collided with Hechavarria’s shoulder. But Ramos then struck out Michael Cuddyer and retired Wilmer Flores to put away the game and end the Marlins’ three-game losing streak.