Miami Marlins

The Marlins, looking to ‘turn the corner,’ use three home runs to top the Mets

Miami Marlins Curtis Granderson (21) is met at home plate by Caleb Smith (31) after Granderson’s third inning home run as New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos (40) stands by at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, Friday, July, 12, 2019.
Miami Marlins Curtis Granderson (21) is met at home plate by Caleb Smith (31) after Granderson’s third inning home run as New York Mets catcher Wilson Ramos (40) stands by at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, Friday, July, 12, 2019.

The Miami Marlins know where they rank in the standings. There’s no need for the reminder.

Their focus now is to build on their final seven-and-a-half weeks before the All-Star break — a run that saw them go 23-24 after a 10-31 start to the season — and possibly escape the National League cellar where they have sat all season.

“It’s time for us to turn the corner,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Friday’s 8-4 win over the New York Mets marked another step in the right direction, another sign of the resiliency the team has showcased throughout the season.

They didn’t flinch after falling behind two runs during a third inning that could have ended two at-bats before Wilson Ramos hit a two-out single with the bases loaded.

The Marlins’ response: A four-run bottom of the third. The Marlins (34-55) sent seven batters to the plate that inning, avoided the shutout with a sacrifice fly from Miguel Rojas and took the lead with back-to-back home runs from Curtis Granderson and Garrett Cooper.

The Marlins, who have now won four consecutive games against the Mets, never trailed after that and are now within five games of the Mets for fourth place in the NL East.

Granderson’s home run, his eighth of the season, came with two outs after a lengthy at bat in which New York Mets starting pitcher Jason Vargas threw six pickoff attempts. The runner at first base: Marlins pitcher Caleb Smith.

But after those half-dozen tosses to first base and another six pitches, Granderson feasted on a changeup and knocked a home run to center field that put the Marlins up 3-2.

Cooper, whose throwing error on a Jeff McNeil stolen base attempt in the third allowed the Mets (40-51) to eventually get their lone two runs of the game, followed up three pitches later with a home run of his own, a 419-foot shot to left field. The Mets outfielders didn’t move as the ball left his bat.

Cooper then hit a double to the center-field wall in the sixth to bring home Granderson before Brian Anderson hit his 12th home run of the year. Friday marked just the fourth time the Marlins hit three home runs in a home game this season.

Starlin Castro’s RBI triple in the eighth closed scoring.

Overall, the Marlins had eight hits, five of which went for extra bases.

It was all more than enough support for Smith, who has won both of his starts since coming off the injured list with left-hip inflammation.

The 27-year-old lefty went six innings, giving up just those two unearned runs in the third while scattering three hits and walking five. He struck out six. Smith lowered his ERA to 3.23 on the season.

Another positive for Smith: Friday marked the first time since April 19 — a span of nine starts — in which he did not allow a home run.

Jarlin Garcia and Elieser Hernandez each threw scoreless innings before the Mets attempted to rally in the ninth.

Todd Frazier hit a two-run home run off Adam Conley to cut the Marlins’ lead to four runs before the lefty retired the final three batters he faced to finish the win.

Rotation rationale

The Marlins’ full starting rotation for the second half of the season will go as follows: Smith, Zac Gallen, Sandy Alcantara, Jordan Yamamoto and Trevor Richards.

Hernandez, who made five starts before the All-Star break while Smith was on the injured list, moves to the bullpen as the Marlins attempt to limit his innings. The 24-year-old righty will be available to make spot starts as needed.

Two mainstays from the Marlins’ opening day rotation, Jose Urena and Pablo Lopez, are still on the IL.

Injury updates

Relief pitcher Tayron Guerrero (right middle finger blister) has played two rehab games with Class A Advanced Jupiter. The Marlins are deciding whether to have him throw a third rehab game before returning from the IL.

Infielder Martin Prado (right hamstring strain) played seven innings at first base for Jupiter on Friday, his third rehab assignment game in as many days.

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.