Jazz Chisholm Jr. heard the boos cascade from the crowd at Minute Maid Park as he rounded the bases in the first inning Friday. He always hears them when he makes a play in a road venue. He loves it. He feeds off of it.
“I love it,” Chisholm said, “because at the end of the day, I know they’re still fans of mine and they love me after the game, but they’ve gotta cheer for the team during the game. I don’t hate that at all. Cheer for your team. You can cheer for me after that. I don’t mind.”
Moments earlier, the Miami Marlins’ second baseman deposited a Luis Garcia four-seam fastball well above the strike zone on an 0-2 count into the Houston Astros’ bullpen in right-center field for a 407-foot leadoff home run.
He capped the celebration with his customary eurostep as he touched home plate.
It was only the beginning.
Fueled by multi-home run games from Chisholm Jr. and Jesus Aguilar, the Marlins received more than enough offense to beat the Astros 7-4 on Friday to open a three-game series and extend their win streak to four games.
And they also received what they hope will end up being good news about Pablo Lopez after he left the game with one out in the fifth inning after a Michael Brantley line drive hit him in the right wrist.
The Lopez update: The Marlins are calling the injury a contusion and said his X-rays came back negative.
It’s unclear if the injury will cause Lopez to miss playing time, which will be significant for the Marlins for the near and long-term future.
But in the present, the Marlins held on to continue their recent winning ways and climb closer to .500. Miami is now 26-30, while Houston falls to 36-22.
Chisholm and Aguilar paved the way on Friday.
They both hit solo home runs in the first inning and two-run shots in the fifth to push Miami to an early 6-1 lead.
“Just getting on the board early was good,” manager Don Mattingly said.
Friday was Chisholm’s second multi-home run game in the past four days after also hitting two home runs on Tuesday against the Washington Nationals. Chisholm is now tied with Jorge Soler with a team-high 12 home runs.
“I wouldn’t mind getting another one tomorrow and having three,” Chisholm said.
It was the first multi-home run game of the season for Aguilar, who now has eight home runs on the season. His first-inning blast was the 100th home run of his MLB career.
Miguel Rojas added a sacrifice fly that scored Jon Berti in the sixth.
And five relievers — Richard Bleier, Dylan Floro, Steven Okert, Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott — picked up the final 4 2/3 innings, limiting the Astros to just three runs on five hits and three walks after Lopez left the game. The first of those runs scored was an inherited runner and charged to Lopez’s pitching line.
Scott earned his fourth save of the season and the third in his past five appearances. He picked up the win in the other two appearances in that span — both Marlins walk-off victories.
Marlins pitchers held the Astros to 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position on Friday.
De La Cruz faces former team for first time
As the Marlins made their way out to the field at Minute Maid Park for batting practice Friday, Aguilar grabbed one of his teammates and did his best to make sure the arriving crowd knew of his attendance.
“De La Cruz is here!”
Yes, Bryan De La Cruz finally made it to what he once thought would have been his home ballpark.
Except he was here as a member of the visiting team.
De La Cruz spent the first seven-and-a-half seasons of his professional baseball career in the Astros organization, reaching as high as Triple A in the minor leagues before being traded to the Marlins last July in a deal that sent relief pitcher Yimi Garcia to Houston.
Friday marks the first time De La Cruz is facing his former organization since the trade and the first time he’s playing in Minute Maid Park as a big leaguer.
“It feels good being here,” De La Cruz said pregame Friday before starting in right field. “I didn’t get to make it with to play with that team on this field, but I’m here now. It feels actually really good.”
When the Marlins acquired De La Cruz from the Astros last July, Kim Ng needed nine words to summarized why they targeted him.
“This guy has basically just hit everywhere he’s been,” the general manager said.
He was a career .276 hitter in the minor leagues and was hitting .324 with 12 home runs, 17 doubles and 50 RBI over 66 Triple A games in 2021 at the time of the trade.
The Marlins threw him straight into the fire after acquiring him, adding him to their active roster as they spent the final two months of that season in development mode en route to a 67-95 finish to the season.
His ability to hit that was present in the minor leagues quickly translated in his two-month sample size in the big leagues to close the season — De La Cruz hit .296 with five home runs, seven doubles, two triples, 19 RBI and 17 runs scored in 58 games. He impressed enough during his two-month trial period at the end of the 2021 season to show the Marlins he could potentially be a long-term piece for them.
Entering Friday, his .356 batting average on balls in play — which doesn’t factor strikeouts or home runs into the equation — was tied for 10th in the majors since making his MLB debut on July 30.
“You don’t often see guys have success quickly,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He had it pretty quick and he’s sustained it. What he’s been able to do is just a testament to him being prepared and ready to go and how he works.”
De La Cruz this season has mainly been a fourth outfielder for the Marlins, getting spot starts when any of Jorge Soler, Jesus Sanchez or Avisail Garcia need a day off.
“You’ve got to control your mind set of what you do during the game,” De La Cruz said. “It’s more of the mental stuff, knowing the role that I have. Get ready. Prepare. Get on the field. And then go out there and do your thing. There’s no specific adjustment that I’ve made, but it’s mostly mental.”
▪ Third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson was diagnosed with a mild disc bulge in his lumbar spine. He will progress and rehab as tolerated but there is no timeline for his return to baseball activities.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Anthony Bender (lower back) threw a 15-pitch bullpen Thursday, with all of the pitches in the session being fastballs.
▪ Pitchers Jesus Luzardo (left forearm strain) and Cody Poteet (right elbow) are still not throwing.
This story was originally published June 11, 2022 12:00 AM.