Grinding out at-bats key to success

MIAMI — All the preaching about having an approach at the plate paid off in the Marlins’ series against the Rockies.

Miami took three of four, and a major reason is the offense basically wore down Colorado’s pitching.

In the four games, the Marlins posted 27 runs, which is tops in the National League. Only the Mariners, with 28 runs, have scored more. In terms of doubles, the Marlins are tops in the Majors with 12.

It’s been a dramatic change from a year ago, when the Marlins were last in the Majors in runs scored (513) and doubles (219).

Hitting coach Frank Menechino constantly talks about having a plan at the plate. The approach mentality has resulted in players grinding out at-bats.

A telling stat that gets little to no attention is pitches seen. In the four games, the Miami’s batters saw 572 pitches. And entering Friday night, that total ranks sixth most among any team in the Majors. The D-backs and Dodgers rank first and second, and both of those clubs have played more games because they opened the regular season in Australia.

The point about seeing so many pitches is the Marlins literally wore down the Rockies relievers.

To show how important this is, consider Wednesday night, when Miami got down, 6-1, and could have called it a night halfway through the game. However, they scrapped back, and eventually lost 6-5, having the tying run in scoring position when the game ended.

In that game, Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins threw 36 pitches in the ninth for the save, making him unavailable on Thursday afternoon. Matt Belisle threw 11 pitches on Wednesday. Colorado had five pitchers combine to throw 167 pitches on Wednesday, compared to 141 pitches for Miami’s three pitchers.

On Thursday, the Marlins fell behind again early. But they ran up Franklin Morales’ pitch total to 90, and the lefty was out of the game after 5 1/3 innings. Tommy Kahnle entered and threw 27 pitches, and Belisle ended throwing the eighth. Miami scored four times off Belisle, who threw 26 pitches.

In eight innings, the Rockies pitchers combined for 143 pitches. The Marlins pitchers, in nine innings, logged 140.

Observations:

* The Rockies repeatedly shifted Christian Yelich, and their positioning helped take some hits away from the 22-year-old. They moved third baseman Nolan Arenado into the hole at short, and he snared a liner early in the series. Yelich also chopped a few ground balls up the middle that resulted in outs, because of the shift. In the outfield, they shaded him the other way.

* Jacob Turner was in line for a loss when he exited the game Thursday, but the team picked him up. Still, even though he gave up five runs, it was important that Turner made it through six innings because he saved the bullpen. The night before, Henderson Alvarez was out of the game after three-plus innings. Kevin Slowey was used for four innings, and did a terrific job saving the ‘pen. Brad Hand was warming up in the early innings on Thursday, but Turner staying in the game meant manager Mike Redmond didn’t have to use both of his long relievers in back-to-back games.

* A.J. Ramos and Carlos Marmol have both looked effective. The two right-handers will offer some nasty sliders and 95-plus fastballs to opposing batters.

* Miami’s bullpen allowed one runs and posted an 0.60 ERA in the series against the Rockies, striking out 12 in 15 innings.

On the farm

Triple-A New Orleans beat Colorado Springs on Thursday. Kyle Jensen belted a home run. Lefty Brian Flynn had a strong outing, striking out five in six shutout innings. He allowed two hits and walked one. In reliever Arquimedes Caminero gave up a run in two innings, and struck out three. He blew a save, but he also was awarded the win. Chris Hatcher collected the save.

Double-A Jacksonville edged Huntsville, 3-1. Anthony DeSclafani struck out seven in six innings, giving up one run on two hits. He collected the win. Nick Wittgren had a 1 2/3 inning save. Alfredo Silverio went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Andrew Heaney, the team’s top prospect, starts on Friday night for Jacksonville.

LINEUP vs. Padres

1) Hechavarria SS
2) Baker 2B
3) Stanton RF
4) McGehee 3B
5) Jones 1B
6) Saltalamacchia C
7) Ozuna CF
8) Johnson LF
9) Koehler

Joe Frisaro

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