Bottom of Marlins' order provides boost

Mattingly defends starting rotation against Willis' criticism

Bottom of Marlins' order provides boost

ST. PETERSBURG -- Marlins manager Don Mattingly has been pleased by the recent offensive production from the lower third of his order.

Miguel Rojas and Adeiny Hechavarria, the Marlins' Nos. 7 and 8 hitters during Wednesday's win over the Rays, combined for seven hits and scored five runs in the 17-hit, 10-run barrage.

"I love the at-bats from the bottom," Mattingly said. "It was nice to see a balanced attack from the standpoint of everybody being involved and everyone giving us something."

Over the last week, Rojas is 6-for-14 (.429) -- including a 4-for-5 night on Wednesday -- and Hechavarria is 7-for-19 (.368). Catcher J.T. Realmuto, the team's regular No. 7 hitter, can also be added to that group, although his 2-for-5 with four RBIs performance on Wednesday came out of the leadoff position with Dee Gordon getting the night off.

Rojas' four-hit game

"I think that's when your team becomes a really dangerous club, when every guy doesn't feel like they have to carry the load, they just got to get their hit and move that line," Mattingly said.

Mattingly sticks up for starters

Dontrelle Willis called out Miami's starting rotation on Wednesday via Twitter. Mattingly, however, doesn't agree with the former Marlins pitcher's assessment.

"Marlins rotation need to show some fight and someone needs to step and say enough is enough. Talented group but needs a bulldog," Willis tweeted.

"I haven't seen Dontrelle around, so I don't know if he truly knows what we have," Mattingly said. "We are what we are. This is our staff."

The Marlins' starting rotation has a 4.89 ERA this season, third highest in the Majors. Mattingly said that those numbers aren't a result of not having enough fight.

"This is our rotation. I don't take any offense to [Willis' tweet], but I also can't give him a lot of credibility because he's not really here," Mattingly said. "This is our team. We'd love to have a [Clayton] Kershaw or a [Madison] Bumgarner and every best pitcher in baseball, but this is our team. We put the best rotation we could together.

"Our guys are competing and fighting. Do we want better? Absolutely, but I don't think it's a lack of wanting to [succeed]."

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.