Miami Marlins

The offense woke up, Dean had a career night and the Marlins snapped their losing streak

Miami Marlins right fielder Austin Dean (44) reacts after hitting a home run in the third inning of a baseball game at Marlins Park in Miami on Saturday, April 13, 2019.
Miami Marlins right fielder Austin Dean (44) reacts after hitting a home run in the third inning of a baseball game at Marlins Park in Miami on Saturday, April 13, 2019. mocner@miamiherald.com

The losing streak is over — and the Miami Marlins began showing signs of life on offense Saturday.

Three home runs, all in the same inning.

A season-high 18 hits by nine players, including five players with multi-hit nights.

And, most importantly for the Marlins, a 10-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies to snap a five-game losing skid in front of 13,828 and give the Marlins a chance to win their first series of the season when they close the three-game set against Philadelphia at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday.

“It was needed,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “To see some balls fall, get some runs on the board, to know that you can do it I think is important for us.”

Here’s how Saturday played out:

Dean’s career night

Austin Dean plated the Marlins’ only run in their loss to the Phillies on Friday, his first day with the team this season after being called up from Triple-A New Orleans.

On Saturday, Dean had a career night.

The outfielder went 4-for-4 with a home run, triple, three runs and career-best 5 RBI.

Dean drove in runs on three of his four at-bats. He opened scoring with an RBI single to center in the second, added two more to the tally with his third-inning home run and added the final two RBI on his triple to right field in the seventh.

“That was fun,” Dean said.

Dean became the Marlins’ third regular starting right fielder on Friday, after Garrett cooper landed on the Injured List and Peter O’Brien struggled at the plate and was ultimately optioned.

If he keeps up the production — and makes sound decisions defensively — he could make a case to stay.

All hail the long ball

Three swings in the third inning gave the Marlins (4-11) almost as many runs as they had produced over the course of their entire five-game losing streak.

Brian Anderson and Neil Walker led off the frame with back-to-back home runs. Dean followed suit four batters later with his two-run homer.

Three swings, four runs.

Phillies (8-5) starter Zach Elfin’s night was finished one inning later.

It marked the first time that the Marlins belted out three home runs in an inning since doing so on Sept. 20, 2017, at home against the New York Mets. A.J. Ellis, Miguel Rojas, and Giancarlo Stanton produced the home runs in that game.

The Marlins record for most home runs in a single inning: Four, set on Aug. 26, 1998 against St. Louis.

Anderson stepping up

Anderson’s home run to lead off the third inning showed his power potential, with the ball traveling 435 feet to dead center field.

But it was just one sign that Anderson had gotten his groove back after a mini slump during the Marlins’ first road trip of the season.

After getting an off day on Wednesday in the middle of the Cincinnati Reds series, Anderson has six hits and three walks over 13 plate appearances in the last three games. That includes a 3-for-5 night on Saturday.

Anderson has risen his batting average to .231 on the year after it dipped as low as .143 before the off day.

Smith’s stellar start

Not to be outdone by the quality offensive night, Caleb Smith had arguably his best start of the year.

After battling through a 29-pitch first inning — one that ended with him striking out J.T. Realmuto at the end of an 11-pitch battle — Smith settled in and fired off six scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and three walks while striking out six to earn his first win of the season. He threw a season-high 99 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 2.65 and how has 21 strikeouts in 17 innings through three starts.

Nick Anderson, Tayron Guerrero and Adam Conley each threw one scoreless inning to close out the game. The Phillies broke up the shutout with one out in the ninth when Odubel Herrera hit an RBI single off Conley to right field and added two more runs on a Nick Williams double to center.

Rojas ‘taken over’ at shortstop

After the Marlins opened the season platooning at shortstop, it looks like the position now belongs to Rojas.

The versatile infielder started at short for the fourth consecutive game and 10th time overall through the first 15 games of the season.

“Miggy, in a sense, has taken over that job,” Mattingly said before the game. “His at-bats in the spring were good. His at-bats early in the season have been good. Just wanted that energy on the field.”

That continued on Saturday, with Rojas going 3-for-3 with a double, a sacrifice fly and two runs scored. He is on a three-game hitting streak and is tied for the team lead among Marlins starters with a .316 batting average. He has also struck out just once in 38 at-bats.

So what does that mean for JT Riddle, who had been splitting time at shortstop with Rojas depending on the pitching matchup but hasn’t had a start since Tuesday?

He’ll still get spot starts at shortstop when Rojas needs an off day. He has also practiced at third base and left field recently, so those might be options down the road, too.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.

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