On the day Don Mattingly put him in the cleanup spot, Christian Yelich shrugged it off as no big deal, that even if there was a manual on the art of hitting fourth he wouldn’t read the thing anyway.
“You’ve got to go with the same approach,” he said.
That was Tuesday.
On Thursday, Yelich in his new role homered for the third straight day as the Marlins ended a five-game losing streak with a desperately needed 6-4 victory over the New York Mets.
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“August (stunk) for us,” Yelich said. “Hopefully September’s better. It’s nice to get off on the right foot. It was big for us to win this last one here and see what it can do for us.”
Yelich’s three-run homer in the seventh off Mets reliever Josh Smoker allowed the Marlins to exhale for the first time in a while — and helped the Marlins avoid a four-game sweep.
Jose Urena out-pitched Jacob deGrom, while Yelich came through at the plate with three hits and four RBI. All three of his home runs over the past three games were opposite-field shots. Yelich also walked once, stole a
base and made a diving catch on a bases-loaded line drive by deGrom to end the second. Jeff Francoeur and Xavier Scruggs also drove in runs as the Marlins put an awful August to rest with a winning start to September.
“We really had a rough month,” Mattingly said. “You hope this starts somewhat of a roll, where you play great baseball. It doesn’t matter that we had a rough series (losing three out of four). It just matters going forward.
Can we get hot? And that’s the question. Because someone’s going to.”
Urena has given the Marlins three solid starts in a row, going 2-1 during that span while allowing four runs over 17 1/3 innings (2.08 ERA).
The only run Urena allowed Thursday was a Jay Bruce leadoff homer in the sixth.
“I think this guy is really starting to learn how to pitch,” Mattingly said of Urena. “If he can continue to build on that momentum, then you start to see a guy the organization has thought would be a really solid starter in your
Thanks in large part to Yelich — offensively and defensively — the Marlins had what appeared to be a safe 6-1 lead heading into the eighth. But the Mets came up with a run in the eighth off Nick Wittgren and were threatening to score more when Mattingly brought in Kyle Barraclough.
Barraclough walked the first batter he faced to load the bases with no outs, but then got Michael Conforto to tap back to the mound. Barraclough threw home for one out, with catcher Jeff Mathis firing to first to complete
the double play.
“Obviously, that was huge,” Mattingly said. “You didn’t want that game to get going (for the Mets).”
Barraclough then struck out Yoenis Cespedes to end the inning.
Fernando Rodney was on the mound to work the ninth, and got off to a shaky beginning, allowing an infield hit to Travis d’Arnaud before giving up a two run homer to Asdrubal Cabrera.
But Rodney silenced the crowd by retiring the next three batters to end the game.