The best catcher in baseball came through with a grand slam on Saturday, a four-bagger that broken open a tight game and propelled the Marlins to a 6-2 victory over the Rockies. Whether that translates to a few more fan votes in the All-Star balloting for J.T. Realmuto is anyone's guess, though.
So far, Realmuto is receiving a cold shoulder from voters, who have at least five other National League catchers ranked ahead of him in the annual exercise of selecting the All-Star starters.
Realmuto continues to rake for the Marlins, delivering a crushing, opposite-field blow off Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw in the seventh and turning a 2-1 Marlins lead into a five-run cushion.
"A guy on third and less than two outs, I was trying my best to hit a fly ball -- put the ball in play, basically," Realmuto said of his 10th home run and second career grand slam. "All I was thinking was we need this insurance run here."
Until Realmuto delivered, the afternoon for the Marlins belonged to Trevor Richards.
Pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the majors, Richards turned in one of his best outings as a big-leaguer, holding the Rockies to a run on three hits over six innings. He struck out eight. When he struck out Nolan Arenado a second time, the Rockies All-Star third baseman yelled in anger.
“He threw a ton of change ups and his change up was on today," said catcher Bryan Holaday, who was behind the plate. "He’s got a devastating change up. It’s similar to a Bugs Bunny change up, I guess."
Realmuto, who has caught Richards before but started at first base on Saturday: "Anytime you can make Arenado look like that a couple of at bats, you know you’ve got your stuff going."
Richards said he was just doing what he always does, keeping hitters guessing by mixing his pitch speeds.
"I have to keep the hitters off balance," said Richards, who doesn't have an overpowering fastball. "If I can throw fastballs, change ups -- throttle them a little bit -- it always helps out."
Said Rockies manager Bud Black: "He had us off balance pretty much the whole day. Saw a lot of swing-throughs on his change, he beat us with the fastball. He pitched for six innings. It was a nice job by him."
The Marlins held a brief 1-0 lead on Derek Dietrich's 10th home run, a solo shot off Tyler Anderson in the fourth. Dietrich was a late addition to the lineup after Miguel Rojas was scratched with a sore left hand.
But the Rockies answered when Carlos Gonzalez singled for the Rockies' first hit off Richards with one out in the fourth and later scored on Gerardo Parra's sacrifice fly.
It remained 1-1 until the seventh when the Marlins regained the lead on Justin Bour's pinch-hit RBI single. For the season, Bour has gone 4 for 7 with three home runs and seven RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
Three batters later, after the Marlins loaded the bases, Realmuto sent Shaw's two-strike pitch over the wall in right. It was Realmuto's second career grand slam.
NOTES: Mattingly said Elieser Hernandez would likely start Tuesday in place of Jose Urena, who is on the disabled list.
“Hernandez will probably be the guy who gets the start,” Mattingly said.
Hernandez has made four starts and Wednesday in San Francisco worked in long relief (2 2/3 innings, 65 pitches) after Don Straily was ejected.
The Marlins are awaiting the outcome of Straily’s appeal of a five-game league suspension to decide their rotation moving forward.
-- Rojas was a late scratch from Saturday’s lineup due to continuing soreness in his bruised left hand, which was was injured when he was hit by a pitch in the Baltimore series.
"Today when I was taking swings in the cage, I couldn’t even swing the bat," Rojas said. "It was so painful to swing. It was worse than what it's been."
-- Marlins rookie Brian Anderson will have a strong rooting interest when his college team, the University of Arkansas, tries to capture the school’s first-ever national championship in baseball.
Arkansas advanced to the finals with their win over Florida on Friday and will face either Oregon State or Mississippi State in the best-of-three series finals.
“I’m excited to root them on,” said Anderson, who was the Marlins’ third-round draft pick out of Arkansas in 2014. “It’s awesome. There’s only one or two guys I really know on that team anymore. I’m going to let them do their thing and not jinx it by texting them now.”