Marlins slugger has hit safely in all 20 career games vs. Rays
By J. Scott Butherus
Special to MLB.com |
ST. PETERSBURG -- Before Wednesday's game at Tropicana Field, the wives of Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins players took part in their annual softball scrimmage game. Miami outfielder Marcell Ozuna made sure to give his wife, Genesis, plenty of pointers.
After all, if anyone knows how to torch Rays pitching, it's Ozuna. Tampa Bay pitchers have never held Ozuna hitless in a game at any point in his career.
The 26-year-old outfielder went 2-for-4 with a long home run and a walk in a 10-6 win on Wednesday. In his career against the Rays, Ozuna is 30-for-75 (.400), the highest among all active players with at least 50 at-bats vs. Tampa Bay.
In the top of the fourth inning, Ozuna took a 1-0 changeup from Rays starter Blake Snell to straightaway left field. The ball cleared the upper deck and hit the Rays' 2011 Wild Card banner hanging from the upper rafters of Tropicana Field.
"I don't know how far it go, because I don't look at it," Ozuna said. "I just looked at it a little bit and put my head down and ran the bases."
According to Statcast™, Osuna's blast measured 468 feet -- the second-longest ball hit at Tropicana in the Statcast™ era behind a 471-foot shot by the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in 2015.
"That thing was long," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I thought it hit the ring, because I didn't see it on the other side, and then someone told me it hit the flag."
The home run extended Ozuna's hitting streak against Tampa Bay to 20 games, tying former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for the second-longest all-time against the Rays. Former Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo hit in 23 straight games vs. Tampa Bay. It also tied Ozuna with Boston's Dustin Pedroia (vs. Oakland) for the longest active streak against any opponent.
"He's a good player. There's no doubt he's a good player," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think he's got a little bit of the bad-ball hitter in him, where you can make some good pitches and he can adjust to them. We have not seen him miss too many fastballs or offspeed pitches at all over the last couple of years."
It isn't just Rays pitching that Ozuna has scorched lately. He was named the National League Player of the Week on April 17 after he went 10-for-23 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in six games. On the season, Ozuna is batting .300 with eight homers and a team-high 23 RBIs.
"I just wait for my pitch and be ready for it," Ozuna said.
Perhaps the only thing Ozuna doesn't like about playing the Rays is dealing with the domed roof of the Trop. Ozuna committed his first error of the season after misplaying a fly ball in left field off the bat of Brad Miller that led to three unearned runs for the Rays in the second inning.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg and covered the Marlins on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.