Christian Yelich hasn’t been much of a home run hitter so far in his career.
That’s changing this season.
Yelich’s two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth inning was his fourth of the season at Marlins Park and sixth overall, and it propelled the Marlins to a 5-1 comeback victory over the Colorado Rockies.
“[Hitting more home runs] is something that’s just kind of happened, and I hope I can keep it going,” Yelich said.
The Marlins (35-32) added three runs in the seventh on an RBI double by Martin Prado and a two-run single by Giancarlo Stanton.
The offensive outburst backed up a combined one-hitter started by Adam Conley and finished by the bullpen combo of Nick Wittgren, Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and Dustin McGowan.
The Marlins recorded the 16th one-hitter in franchise history and shut down the Rockies, who entered the game with the top team batting average in the National League and second-best in the majors.
“That’s a good, young club that has experience swinging the bats,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Conley seemed sharp. He pounded the ball away for strikes and used his breaking ball really well.”
Yelich said he really hasn’t made a conscious effort to hit more home runs this season.
Nonetheless, after hitting only three at Marlins Park in the first three seasons of his career, his season total already surpassed that mark.
Yelich has hit six home runs in 62 games after hitting seven all of last season. His career high for a single season is nine.
Yelich smacked a changeup from Rockies starter Jon Gray into the right-field seats with one out to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Prado beat out a throw to first to avoid a double play on the previous at-bat after Derek Dietrich led off the inning with a single.
“I was looking for something up and put a good swing on it,” Yelich said. “It caught a little to the end, but I got enough of it.”
In addition to his consistency at the plate this season, Yelich’s run production is up from a season ago.
After hitting seven home runs and totaling 44 RBI last year, Yelich (.317 batting average) already has 33 RBI and is hitting .277 with runners in scoring position, which is up from his .243 average in that category in 2015.
Stanton was back in the starting lineup Friday after sitting out the previous game and had two singles. The second one drove in Yelich and Prado and provided more than enough of a cushion for the bullpen. It was Stanton’s first multi-hit game since June 8 and only his second since May 13.
Conley held the Rockies without a hit through the first 5 2/3 innings until Carlos Gonzalez belted a double down the right-field line.
Conley intentionally walked Nolan Arenado, setting up a matchup against rookie Trevor Story. Conley, who had already thrown 98 pitches going into the at-bat, walked Story and then hit Ryan Raburn with a slider on a 2-2 count to force in the first run.
That finished Conley’s night after a 109-pitch start in which he walked five (two were intentional) and struck out five. It was the third time this season Conley kept an opponent hitless for at least the first 5 2/3 innings. Conley held a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings on April 29 in Milwaukee before being pulled that night after throwing 116 pitches.
“I threw a lot of two-seam fastballs and was able to locate them and get a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Conley said. “As the game went on, my consistency with fastball command kind of waned a little bit. To their credit they weren’t swinging, and that put me in tough counts and brought the pitches up.”
Ichiro Suzuki scored from first base on Prado’s double in the seventh, moments after he recorded his 2,980th major-league hit on a pinch-hit single.
The Marlins honored Ichiro before the game for securing his 4,257th professional hit, which combined his 2,979 hits (before Friday) in Major League Baseball and his 1,278 in the Nippon Professional League of Japan, and surpassed the 4,256 hits by MLB all-time leader Pete Rose.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill presented Ichiro with the second-base bag from Petco Park that he reached following the ninth-inning double he hit Wednesday in San Diego to pass Rose.
The Marlins held a moment of silence prior to Friday’s game for the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando. The club will also donate the proceeds from the Marlins Foundation’s 50-50 raffle on Friday and Saturday and from the ticket packages for the scheduled Pride at the Park event on July 9 to the Florida Disaster Fund.