Miami Marlins

Marcell Ozuna emerging as new tower of power for Marlins

Miami Marlins' Marcell Ozuna celebrates after his home run off Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wed., May 3, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Miami Marlins' Marcell Ozuna celebrates after his home run off Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wed., May 3, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. AP

Giancarlo Stanton is no longer the only Marlin sending home run aficionados racing to check distances.

Marcell Ozuna’s 468-foot home run Wednesday night wasn’t yet on a downward trajectory when it struck one of the pennants hanging high above the upper deck in left field at Tropicana Field.

According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Ozuna has five of the nine longest home runs hit by Marlins this season with all of them traveling 411 feet or more. Stanton has two even though they are the second (448 feet) and third longest distances (441 feet).

“That thing was long,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I couldn’t find it. I thought it hit the ring, because I didn’t see it on the other side. And then somebody told me it hit the thing, hit the flag.”

It ranked eighth all-time in the park’s history - 10 feet shorter than Vinny Castilla’s 478-footer on April 4, 2001 – and the fourth-longest by a visiting player. That record belongs to former Marlins catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, who hit one 472 feet as a member of the Rangers on July 22, 2001.

It’s not the first time a Marlins player has hit one of the longest home runs at an opposing team’s ballpark.

Stanton’s mammoth home run August 6 last season was tracked at 504 feet by Statcast, which would make it the longest ever at Coors Field in Colorado.

Reggie Abercrombie’s 493-foot homer on April 19, 2006 is the third-longest at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and the longest by an opposing player.

Ozuna’s blast was the second-longest at Tropicana recorded by MLB’s Statcast behind Alex Rodriguez’s 471-footer on April 17, 2015. With a second-inning single Thursday, Ozuna has hit safely in all 21 career games against the Rays.

“I just looked for my pitch and was ready to put a good swing on it,” Ozuna said. “I didn’t know how far it went because I put my head down.”

WILLIS TWEET

Former Marlins All-Star pitcher Dontrelle Willis called out the team’s starting rotation on Twitter Wednesday after Edinson Volquez was placed on the disabled list.

Willis tweeted: “Marlins rotation need to show some fight and someone needs to step and say enough is enough. Talented group but needs a bulldog.”

Marlins’ starters entered Thursday’s game with a combined 4.89 ERA – the third-worst in the majors.

“I don’t take any offense to it, but I also can’t give him a lot of credibility because he’s not here,” Mattingly said. “This is our team. We want our guys to be battling every day, pitching their tails are and improving, but we are who we are. We’d love to have [Clayton] Kershaw or [Madison] Bumgarner and every other of the best pitchers in baseball.

“Our guys are competing and fighting. Do we want them to get better, absolutely. But I don’t think it’s because of a lack of wanting to.”

SPORADIC OUTBURSTS

The Marlins matched a season-high 10 runs Wednesday night and recorded a season-high 17 hits in the 10-6 victory over the Rays. They also had three multi-run innings in the game after only posting two over the previous seven games with both coming in a 10-3 win over the Pirates this past Sunday.

Aside from those two wins, the Marlins lost six of their past eight games, scoring a combined 11 runs.

“I think it’s all about approach,” said Miguel Rojas, who had a career-high four hits in Wednesday’s game. “We come up with a plan. We hit good against good pitchers, but we haven’t done as well against guys with a 4 or 5 ERA. That’s something we have to get better at.”

COMING UP

Friday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. New York Mets RHP Rafael Montero (0-2, 9.45), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.

Saturday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-1, 4.33) vs. Mets RHP Robert Gsellman (1-2, 6.75), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.

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