Cat takes cover as Ozuna’s 2 HRs fuel Marlins’ victory in home opener
MIAMI (AP) — A gray cat went scrambling for cover in the Marlins Park outfield midway through Tuesday night’s game, and no wonder, given the barrage off Marcell Ozuna’s bat.
Ozuna homered twice and had a career-high six RBIs to help Miami win its home opener against the Atlanta Braves, 8-4.
Announced attendance was 36,519, and that didn’t include a cat that ran onto the field midway through the game. It scurried along the outfield warning track, ran away from right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, crawled up the center field wall and then appeared to get stuck in the animatronic home run sculpture.
Marlins president David Samson said if Ozuna had hit a third homer, the sculpture would not have been activated for fear of harming the cat.
“He stayed up there for four innings,” said Ozuna, the Marlins’ left fielder. “Every time I went on defense, I looked up there and the cat was hiding its head. I said, ‘What are you doing up there?’ In the last inning I didn’t see it. I don’t know where he went.”
Ozuna said he didn’t buy the notion the cat brought good luck.
“I detest cats,” he said.
Ozuna hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning, a three-run homer in the third and a two-run homer in the fifth, doubling his season RBI total and hiking his average to .423. The two-homer game was the second of his career.
Ozuna hit 23 homers last year but batted only .209 after the All-Star break, and manager Don Mattingly wants him to stop trying to knock the ball over the fence.
“I’ve talked to him about hitting more doubles and using the gaps,” Mattingly said. “We’ve talked about him hitting 50 doubles, and to me he hits 30 homers by mistake.”
Nick Markakis had a solo homer for the Braves, who fell to 1-6 with their fifth consecutive loss.
“It’s a little bit of pressure on guys,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We might be trying to do too much.”
Bartolo Colon (0-1) needed 35 pitches to get through the first inning. He allowed six runs in four innings.
“He got a little fat in the strike zone,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Dan Straily (1-1) allowed three runs, two earned, in five innings for his first victory since joining Miami. When he hit former Reds teammate Phillips in the midsection with a fastball in the fifth inning, they shared a laugh.
“I said something like, ‘I know you still love me,'” Straily said. “It’s good when a guy can take it that way.”
Three members of the Marlins’ 1997 World Series championship team threw out the ceremonial first pitch — Livan Hernandez, Edgar Renteria and Charles Johnson. And then the 2017 Marlins came out swinging, taking a 3-0 lead in the first.
Later came the cat.
“I was hoping it wasn’t black,” Mattingly said.
The family of Jose Fernandez decided not to attend the Marlins’ home opener because it would have been too emotional, Samson said. A tribute will be held later for the late ace, who died in a boat crash in September.
“It’s still fresh. It still hurts,” Samson said. “We want to wait for a little more healing.”
Marlins players said they went into the home opener mindful of Fernandez.
“I said, ‘Let’s go brother. I’m going to play for you always,'” Ozuna said.
Right-hander Julio Teheran was announced as the Braves’ starter for their home opener in their new stadium Friday against San Diego.
Marlins: 3B Martin Prado (right hamstring) is scheduled to begin a four-day rehabilitation assignment Wednesday with Class A Jupiter. He said he intently watched telecasts of his team’s road games last week. “Let me put it this way — I was making plays on defense and diving on my bed,” he said.
RHP Odrisamer Despaigne was reinstated from the 10-day DL and optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
RHP Jaime Garcia (0-1, 6.00) is scheduled to start Wednesday for the Braves against RHP Tom Koehler (0-0, 1.80).