Marlins game delayed as crowd cheers on 'Rally cat'
Don Cattingly? J.T. Realmeowto?
Those were just a couple of made-up names the Marlins placed in a social media poll a day after a feline visitor made its way onto their Home Run Sculpture.
The question now is, will the Marlins’ new “Rally Cat” fade into oblivion much as it did after it ran away from its rescuers after Tuesday night’s home opener?
Or will it join the likes of the “Rally Monkey” or the “Rally Squirrel” in the pantheon of baseball’s animal good-luck charms?
“The first thing I thought was maybe it’s bad luck, and then I said maybe you’re here for some reason,” Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna said. “Maybe it’s good luck, so let’s play.”
The team began referring to it as #RallyCat on social media and the following day started a fan poll with potential names such as Nick Kittengren and Kyle Barraclaw. The cat soon had its own Twitter account: @MarlinsCat.
“I was just hoping it wasn’t a black cat,” joked Marlins manager Don Mattingly after the game.
The Florida Panthers had “The Year of the Rat” in 1996, the season they made their lone trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Los Angeles Angels’ “Rally Monkey” became a national sensation during their 2002 World Series title run, as did the “Rally Squirrel” in St. Louis during the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series championship.
The cat appeared just moments after Ozuna’s second of two home runs in the fifth inning of the Marlins’ 8-4 win over the Braves.
After it raced onto the field, causing a brief delay in getting the ensuing inning started, the cat then climbed its way up the center field wall and found a spot on the bottom part of the Home Run Sculpture.
The cat, which appeared coincidentally on National Pet Day, remained there until the end of the game, often poking its head through a small opening that leads to the interior of the structure.
Fearing for the cat’s safety, Marlins management decided not to activate the sculpture for the remainder of the game. The Marlins Park Twitter account later posted that the cat had been rescued but had run away.
“At first, the cat had me a little worried,” Ozuna said. “It stayed up there for four innings. It hid its head into the [sculpture] and I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ I didn’t see it after the ninth inning when I looked up there.”
Ozuna, however, said after the game that he’s not fond of cats.
“I detest cats,” Ozuna said. “I don’t like them.”
OZUNA ON A TEAR
Ozuna continued his torrid start to the 2017 season. Ozuna went 2-for-2 with two home runs and six RBI on only two official at-bats, going 2-for-2.
According to Elias, Ozuna became only the ninth player since 1920 to drive in six runs with two-or-fewer official at-bats in a game. Ozuna was the first to do so since San Diego’s Bret Boone in 2000.
Ozuna’s 12 RBI through seven games matched a club record shared by Jorge Cantu (2010) and Giancarlo Stanton (2014).
Overall, the Marlins have so far shown signs of putting together the type of run production they were hoping for this season.
Through the first seven games, the Marlins are ranked seventh in the majors, averaging an even five runs per game. The Marlins ranked 27th last season in runs scored, averaging 4.07 per game.
“I like that the mentality has been kind of steady throughout the game,” Mattingly said. “The guys have taken to heart having a game plan when they walk up there to hit.”
▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Mets RHP Robert Gsellman (0-1, 4.50), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (1-0, 1.80) vs. Mets Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 0.69), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.