Many believe Christian Yelich can become one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball if he adds some power to his already consistent hitting.
The Marlins outfielder has begun to show some this season and a lot since the All-Star break.
Yelich surpassed his single-season high for home runs when he belted a 417-foot, two-run homer off Mets starter Logan Verrett in the sixth inning of Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Mets.
“Obviously, not trying to hit a home run there, just trying to get a guy in from third base,” Yelich said. “I hit it hard and put a pretty good swing on it.”
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It was Yelich’s 10th of the season and third in the past four games entering Saturday night’s contest.
“Different guys get hot, but those two [Yelich and Martin Prado] seem to just keep walking down the road and keep getting hits and keep driving in runs and are just steady,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “The power is coming a little bit, and if that continues [Yelich] turns into a really scary guy.”
Yelich is having a career season at the plate, one of the major factors in making the Marlins contenders deep into July for the first time since 2009.
Yelich entered Saturday having hit .353 since the All-Star break and .337 since June 27 of last year, which was second only to Houston’s Jose Altuve. Yelich has four multi-hit games since the All-Star break.
Yelich brought his RBI total up to a team-best 54 with the home run Friday, which matched a single-season high in that category. His .396 on-base percentage and .499 slugging percentage entering Saturday were also career highs.
David Phelps took the loss Friday night when Yoenis Cespedes’ second sacrifice fly of the game scored former Marlin Jose Reyes to put the Mets ahead for good.
Phelps, who opened the frame by giving up back-to-back singles to Reyes and Curtis Granderson, has hit a bit of a rough patch since the All-Star break. In his past four appearances entering Saturday’s game, Phelps had allowed four hits, three earned runs, five walks and two home runs in one outing in St. Louis with four strikeouts for an 8.10 ERA during that span.
Phelps, who has 60 strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA in 49 1/3 innings this season, has been a vital part of the Marlins’ late-inning relief, which has been one of the best in baseball.
“I have a few pitches that go to the middle of the plate and just really kind of [been] unlucky lately,” Phelps said. “It seems like every ball they’re hitting is finding holes, except for the ones in St. Louis. They didn’t find holes. They found the seats.
“Those guys have been a little more aggressive to me lately. I just need to make a little bit of an adjustment.”
Logan Verrett became the latest opposing starter to confound Marlins hitters for the better part of a game.
The Marlins also had trouble with Jeremy Hellickson on Wednesday as well as Adam Wainwright in a three-hit shutout loss July 16 in St. Louis.
“That kind of pitcher has given us trouble over the past week to 10 days, a guy that can change speeds and pitch backwards like that,” Mattingly said.
“It’s given us trouble. That’s an area that we’ll make strides and get better.”
Jose Urena gave up one run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies on Tuesday night in his first start this season and first appearance since May 30.
Urena (1-1, 6.23 ERA) was sent down following a couple of rough relief outings until he was recalled prior to Tuesday’s start.
His solid outing earned him at least one more start and at the very least gives the Marlins a fifth-starter option for the time being as they continue to pursue trades to bolster their rotation before the Aug. 1 deadline.
“I’ve been a little bit more patient with my pitches on the mound,” Urena said. “This is a great opportunity to come back now, and I’ve been feeling very confident.”
ON THE WAY BACK
Dee Gordon had a hit and stole two bases in his most recent start at Triple A New Orleans.
Gordon went hitless in five at-bats over the first two games of his rehab assignment as he prepares to return from an 80-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Gordon is eligible to return for Thursday night’s home game against the Cardinals.
“I’m told he’s swinging the bat good down there and looks good for a guy who hasn’t played in a while,” Mattingly said.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Urena (1-1, 6.23 ERA) vs. New York Mets LHP Steven Matz (7-6, 3.56), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 4.99) vs. Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 3.84), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.