Cleaning up, Yelich homers in first at-bat

Cleaning up, Yelich homers in first at-bat

NEW YORK -- The status quo hadn't been working, so manager Don Mattingly decided to shake things up with the top of the Marlins' order on Tuesday. Martin Prado batted third, and Christian Yelich moved into the cleanup spot for the first time in his career.

The change produced immediate results as Prado doubled and Yelich belted a two-run homer in the first inning. But from there, it was pretty much more of the same, as the Marlins struggled again to score runs, and the Mets claimed a 7-4 win at Citi Field.

"It's just really putting guys in a different spot, a little bit of a different look, and see where it goes," Mattingly said.

Prado and Yelich have been the Marlins' two most consistent hitters all season, and until Tuesday, Mattingly had both lined up to automatically bat in the first inning. Prado was primarily hitting second and Yelich third.

But heading into Tuesday, the Marlins had scored just two runs in 28 innings since they celebrated an 7-6 walk-off win over the Padres on Friday.

"It's just trying to do something different, honestly," Mattingly said.

In the first inning off Seth Lugo, Yelich laced his two-run, opposite-field homer. Normally, the Miami left fielder doesn't hit too many out to the opposite field. He got just enough. According to Statcast™, the home run projected 376 feet from home plate with an exit velocity of 101 mph.

Yelich, with 16 home runs and 78 RBIs, noted he will keep his same approach, no matter where he is in the lineup. He also joked that there isn't a "How to Hit Fourth" manual that explains how to knock 30 homers and drive in 120 runs.

Still, the 24-year-old acknowledged tinkering with the lineup isn't a bad idea.

"I don't think it hurts to try it," Yelich said. "Obviously, what we've been doing hasn't been working for us. We've been struggling to score runs the last couple of weeks. It's not going to hurt to try it."

The Marlins have struggled to score runs all month, ranking last in the Majors in runs scored for August with 91 heading into Tuesday.

"I know these guys are confident in what they can do, and they've stayed consistent any time we've had patches like this," Mattingly said. "They've come out of it."

After grabbing the early lead, they surrendered seven straight runs before scoring twice in the ninth on J.T. Realmuto's homer and Dee Gordon's RBI single.

Realmuto's solo homer

"It's going to turn around eventfully," Yelich said. "It's going to take one or two games to put some up, and you get some good momentum going in a different direction. It gets better. Obviously, it seems like it's pretty dark times right now. They all come to an end, eventually."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for 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.