Although he’s now playing against the Miami Marlins when they wrap up a four-game set with on Thursday, Marcell Ozuna’s time in South Florida was certainly productive.
In more than four years with the Marlins, Ozuna hit 96 home runs, played in two All-Star games, won a Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove. His rocket for an arm made him tough to run on in left field and on this day five years ago, he made perhaps his most memorable throw as a member of the Marlins.
At 36-36, the Marlins were seeking to get over .500 as they hosted the New York Mets at Marlins Park on June 20, 2014.
The Marlins enjoyed a 3-0 lead. An RBI groundout by Adeiny Hechavarria in the first inning put Miami on the board. The Marlins added two runs in the seventh on an errant throw by New York catcher Anthony Recker and an RBI double by Hechavarria.
Then in the top of the eighth, David Wright singled home the first Mets run. Eric Campbell followed that up with his own RBI single, which would’ve tied the game had Ozuna not gunned down Wright at home plate.
Not out of the woods yet, though. The Mets threatened in the ninth against Miami closer Steve Cishek. The Marlins led 3-2 entering the final inning, but after a double and a sacrifice bunt, outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis stood at third base with just one out. Chris Young lifted a 3-2 Cishek pitch to left field, which appeared to be plenty deep enough to score the tying run.
Once again, testing Ozuna’s arm proved to be unwise. He was able to catch the ball with a head of steam and fire a frozen rope to home plate. The throw got there on the fly to Miami catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who tagged Nieuwenhuis for the out at the plate to end the contest.
Ozuna’s throw not only preserved the win for the Marlins, but for starting pitcher Henderson Álvarez, who allowed seven hits and struck out five in 6 1⁄3 innings of work.
Sharing an outfield with future National League MVPs Stanton and Christian Yelich, Ozuna’s value may have been sometimes overlooked. The throw from Ozuna on June 20, 2014 may have been his most memorable defensive memory during his tenure in South Florida and it came on this day five years ago.