Marcell Ozuna hit a home run using a bat he borrowed from Ichiro
t was not a safe night to be a starting pitcher at Marlins Park.
The Phillies’ Vince Velasquez was knocked in the second with an elbow injury. The Marlins’ Justin Nicolino came out after the third with a bruised finger on his throwing hand.
In the end, the Marlins won the game of attrition, handing the Phillies a 7-2 loss to run their winning streak to three straight. The Marlins will go for their first sweep of the season in Wednesday’s series finale.
They’ll put a poor month to rest, in the process.
At least they’ll close out May on a high note if they can get past the Phillies, who are going backwards in a hurry in the National League East, sliding below the Marlins into the division cellar.
The night started ominously for the Phillies in the second when Velasquez was hit hard, giving up a home run to Marcell Ozuna, double to Justin Bour, and a deep fly ball to J.T. Realmuto. He didn’t throw another pitch after that, lifted with a right elbow flexor tendon injury.
Not that the Marlins’ own starter, Nicolino, lasted much longer.
Nicolino injured the index finger on his left throwing hand when he dropped down a bunt with the bases loaded in the Marlins’ five-run third. To that point, Nicolino hadn’t allowed a hit.
“That was just me having a brain (cramp),” Nicolino said. “Bases loaded with one out, I thought I saw the bunt sign and it wasn’t on. Bonehead play right there.”
The ball nicked his finger, creating a blood blister. X-rays were taken, which showed no significant damage. Nicolino is confident he won’t miss a start because of it.
But he didn’t return to the mound for the fourth. The Marlins announced his injury as day-to-day. The bullpen had to cover the final six innings, but had plenty of breathing room thanks to the Marlins’ early scoring outburst.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his team-leading 14th home run, a two-run shot off rookie reliever Mark Leiter, nephew of former Marlins pitcher Al Leiter. Realmuto drew a bases-loaded walk and J.T Riddle singled to drive in a run.
Ozuna had a nice night at the plate, going 3 for 5 with a bat he borrowed from Ichiro Suzuki. Ozuna said he approached Suzuki during batting practice to ask him if he could use one of his bats.
Suzuki was slightly confused with the request at first and thought Ozuna wanted to have him sign one of his bats as a keepsake.
“After practice, I go to him and tell him ‘Can I get one of your bats?’” Ozuna said. “He says ‘For what? For signing?’ No, for using in the game tonight. He said ‘No way. You’re kidding me.’”
Ozuna wasn’t kidding.
“He got 4,000 hits,” Ozuna said. “(I said) hey, can I get 1,000 hits with your bats? He said, of course.”
When he led off the second inning, he hit a Velasquez fastball over the wall in left for his 13th home run of the season.
As soon as Ozuna returned to the clubhouse and saw Ichiro, the response was a “Wow!”
Ozuna said he has decided yet whether he’ll continue using Ichiro’s bats.
“You never know,” Ozuna said. “Maybe tomorrow. Let’s see what happens.”