Ichiro Suzuki had some advice for Dee Gordon in his quest to win the National League batting title.
“Rake first,” Suzuki said within earshot of Gordon. “Swing the bat.”
Gordon is hitting .3311 after going 1 for 5 with an RBI on Wednesday night, mere percentage points behind Washington’s Bryce Harper at .3313. He’s also just one stolen base behind NL leader Billy Hamilton, who is out for the season.
If he is able to overtake Harper and Hamilton, maintain his league lead in total hits and wins the Gold Glove, Gordon will become only the second player in major-league history to accomplish all four. The other: Suzuki.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Gordon, whose locker inside the visitors’ clubhouse at Tropicana Field is next to Suzuki’s.
Gordon said he hasn’t been paying attention to Harper’s average. But he is quick to dispel any notion that he and Harper can be mentioned in the same breath.
“We’re nowhere similar,” Gordon said. “Not in one aspect at all. That guy’s an MVP candidate. Not candidate. He should be the MVP.”
Harper is tied for the league lead in homers with 41, is second in walks with 124 and has the highest slugging percentage in the majors by a wide margin. His .654 slugging figure is vastly superior to Mike Trout’s .581, which ranks second.
“My stats don’t look quite as cool,” Gordon said.
But Gordon has a chance to edge him for the batting title.
“Rake first,” Gordon said, nodding to Suzuki. “That’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.”
Cosart, Marlins fall to Rays 6-4
A trying season for Jarred Cosart ended on a sour note Wednesday when the pitcher was battered in a 6-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cosart, who was embroiled in a gambling controversy during spring training and spent much of the season on the disabled list with vertigo, has the offseason to put 2015 behind him and prepare for a return to the rotation in 2016.
“I’m healthy,” Cosart said. “I think that’s the biggest positive I can take out of it.”
Cosart didn’t allow a hit until John Jaso singled to lead off the fourth, and he said he felt he had “no-hit stuff.”
But Cosart came unraveled in the fifth. After retiring the first two batters, Cosart gave up a solo homer to Nick Franklin, the Rays’ No. 9 hitter, walked the next two batters and failed to finish the inning after giving up three more runs. Cosart finished with a 2-5 record and a 4.52 ERA.
Trailing 6-2, the Marlins scored a run in the eighth and another in the ninth but fell short in the end.
Jose Fernandez will make his final start of his comeback season on Thursday in the same ballpark — Tropicana Field — where he endured the worst outing of his career.
“How can I forget?” Fernandez said of his start on May 27, 2013, against the Rays.
“The first inning was perfect, the best first inning I’ve ever thrown in my life. But after that it was just bad.”
Fernandez gave up six runs in the second and was lifted with one out in the fourth, making it the shorting outing of his career.
Still, Fernandez is looking forward to his final performance of ’15.
“I’m not going to lie,” Fernandez said of pitching near Tampa, where he went to high school after defecting from Cuba. “It’s a special place for me. It’s the first place I came to when I came to America.”
He is 6-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 10 starts since returning from Tommy John surgery in July.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Fernandez (6-0, 2.91 ERA) at Tampa Bay Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-9, 3.49), 7:10 p.m., Tropicana Field.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (4-4, 4.16) at Philadelphia Phillies (TBA), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.