#ASGWorthy Ozuna powers surging Marlins

#ASGWorthy Ozuna powers surging Marlins

MIAMI -- With one swift swing in the sixth inning on Sunday, Marcell Ozuna not only made an impact, he also delivered a statement. The 25-year-old center fielder blasted a three-run homer that was all the Marlins needed in a 3-0 win over the Rockies at Marlins Park.

Ozuna, who went 3-for-4, paces the Marlins in home runs (13) and RBIs (41). He raised his batting average to .319.

In a season where three-time All-Star Giancarlo Stanton has scuffled, Ozuna has given the Marlins a major lift. He has repeatedly come up big. Sunday's home run prompted at least one Miami player to lobby for Ozuna to receive All-Star support.

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"The guy has been playing outstanding," said right-hander Tom Koehler, who threw six shutout innings on Sunday. "I hope the fans across the league are recognizing what he's doing. He really deserves to be up there in the All-Star voting, if not towards the top. The guy is putting together a tremendous year. He picked up everybody with that swing."

Ozuna, who has a slash line of .319/.372/.545, takes the All-Star talk in stride.

"I'm just going to play the game and [try to] keep my average there and keep playing like that," Ozuna said. "Let's see what happens. A lot of games left."

Ozuna on go-ahead homer

On Sunday, Ozuna had two singles off Rockies lefty Tyler Anderson. So after Derek Dietrich walked and Martin Prado singled in the sixth, Anderson was lifted with two outs.

Right-hander Miguel Castro entered and fell behind Ozuna, 2-0. The second pitch was a 95-mph fastball that was out of the zone. Not wanting to fall behind, 3-0, Castro went back to the fastball. This time, Ozuna was ready for the 95-mph heater, blistering it to left-center. Statcast™ projected the drive at 421 feet with an exit velocity of 109 mph.

"At 2-0, I was just looking for the right pitch in the right spot and hitting it hard," Ozuna said. "He may go back to inside or something in middle to get a strike. That's what I was thinking. React and hit the ball."

Now 37-32, the Don Mattingly-led Marlins are five-games over .500 for the first time since they were 20-15 on May 8, 2014. The Marlins also passed the Mets for second place in the National League East. They are stationed first in the NL Wild Card standings.

 

"We're playing good now, after Donnie had a meeting in San Diego," Ozuna said. "We took advantage."

Ozuna is having a bounce-back season after batting .259 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs in 2015.

Six of his home runs have put the Marlins in front, which is a team high. He's also tied with Prado for the most multi-hit games at 23.

"I know he prepared really well in the offseason," Prado said. "He committed to overcome the tough year he had last year. So, he took that pride and worked out so hard in the offseason to be in shape, to fit in. He wanted to fit in with us, because he loves to be here. You can tell he's having fun.

"He has the strong mentality. He knows he's good. He needed a little guidance. We're all here for that."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.