Neither Christian Yelich nor Ichiro Suzuki — the youngest and oldest position players, respectively, on the Marlins — are having seasons to brag about.
But they had reason to feel good about themselves on Tuesday night.
Yelich and Suzuki delivered big seventh-inning hits in the Marlins’ 6-3 victory over the Mets at Marlins Park. After Ichiro broke a 3-3 tie with a pinch-hit single, Yelich ripped a two-run single off Mets lefty reliever Jerry Blevins to give the Marlins some late-inning breathing room.
The bullpen did the rest as the Marlins (35-40) defeated the Mets (34-42) for the seventh time in 11 meetings this season.
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“You’ve just got to trust the process,” Yelich said of his so-so season at the plate. “You don’t want to panic and kind of switch things up all the time, because you kind of go down this spiral. It turns into a rabbit hole and before you know it you’re buried.”
Ichiro brought a .200 average — or .112 below his career average — into Tuesday. But he pushed it above the “Mendoza Line” with his 12th pinch hit of the season. The hit was No. 3,050 for Ichiro, putting him three behind Rod Carew for 24th on the all-time list.
Like his 43-year-old teammate, Yelich has been slow to get going at the plate. He was hitting .267 before the night began, but he went 3 for 4 on Tuesday.
It’s not the first time he’s gotten off to a slow start.
Two years ago, he was hitting below .250 at the end of June. He finished that season with a .300 average.
“I’ve kind of been in this spot before,” Yelich said. “But we’ve been playing better, and that’s all that really matters.”
The Marlins have gone 18-10 since May 28, as they continue to work their way out of an enormous hole they put themselves in in May. A win on Wednesday would put them back to four games below .500 for the first time since May 7, when they were 13-17.
It was a battle for Marlins starter Dan Straily on Tuesday. He gave up a home run to Curtis Granderson on his second pitch of the game and fought his way through five innings, throwing 94 pitches. The Mets fouled off so many of his pitches that he lost count, and they ran up his pitch count.
Still, Straily managed to hold the Mets to two runs, and his teammates gave him an early lead with three runs in the first off Mets starter Robert Gsellman.
The Mets’ injury woes continued when Gsellman pulled a hamstring while running out a ground ball and was forced to come out after throwing only three innings. Should Gsellman land on the disabled list, he would join five other Mets pitchers.
The Marlins took a 3-2 lead into the seventh, when Travis d’Arnaud homered off Kyle Barraclough.
But the Marlins re-gained the lead in their half of the seventh. After J.T. Realmuto walked to lead off the inning, JT Riddle singled off the glove of Mets first baseman Lucas Duda to put runners at the corners.
Manager Don Mattingly sent in Ichiro, who rifled an opposite-field single to left to make it 4-3. Three batters later, Yelich lined a two-run single to center off Blevins.
“He’s tough on lefties,” Yelich said. “You just know it’s going to be a tough at-bat up there every time.”