Rookie outfielder JJ Bleday, the fifth-ranked prospect in Miami’s system according to MLB Pipeline, hit a solo home run off the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler to right field to tie the game.
From a game perspective, it was the tying run for the Marlins.
From a personal perspective, it went deeper than that for Bleday.
Sitting in the section where Bleday hit his second career MLB home run was his long-time girlfriend Emily Mathewson and a large contingent of friends — mostly Phillies fans wearing custom Marlins shirts because “they told me today they would root for JJ and the Marlins,” Mathewson said on the Bally Sports Florida broadcast in the bottom half of the inning.
One of those friends, Josh, paid the fan caught Bleday’s ball $200.
“Had to get the baseball,” Josh said on the broadcast.
“Absolutely priceless,” added Mathewson, who also said she told Bleday pregame, “If you’re feeling like hitting a bomb out to right, we’ll be there, but no pressure.”
It might have cost them $200, but getting this home run ball back was "absolutely priceless"@CraigMinervini catches up with JJ Bleday's girlfriend Emily and today's hero Josh after he purchased JJ's HR ball back from a Phillies fan!@Marlins | #MakeItMiami pic.twitter.com/ktkTyvL1sp
— Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun (@BallySportsFL) August 10, 2022
Bleday didn’t feel the pressure, and the home run was the latest example of him showing his ability to make in-game adjustments against top-end MLB pitching.
Bleday struck out in his first at-bat of the game against Wheeler, working ahead in the count 3-1 before whiffing on a fastball, fouling another fastball away and looking at a 92.6 mph slider in the zone.
The second time around, Bleday took a slider outside of the zone before crushing a middle-middle fastball a projected 356 feet.
It was similar to how he handled his first career home run on July 27 against Luis Castillo. Bleday also struck out in his first at-bat of that game before lifting a changeup to right field in the fourth inning.
“I’m still learning,” said Bleday, who overall is hitting .218 with a .665 OPS, five extra-base hits (three doubles, two home runs), five runs scored and 19 strikeouts against five walks through his first 16 MLB games. “The main thing’s just been kind of getting on time, swinging at a good pitch and trying not to miss it. That’s what you get at this level. Pump that zone. You can’t make mistakes and you’ve gotta learn from it if you do.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s perspective on Bleday to this point: “I’ve said it a number of times: JJ puts good at-bats together. Really, it’s going to be a matter of shortening the route and tightening up his swing because he gets himself good pitches to hit. He’s not a big chase. He’s just got to be able to finish at-bats when he gets pitches to hit. ... JJ is in a pretty good spot.”
What happened in right field?
The Phillies’ first run of the game came following a defensive miscue.
The official scoring was a two-base error on De La Cruz, and Bohm scored one batter later on a J.T. Realmuto double.
But Wendle postgame said the mistake was his.
“I‘ll take full blame on that one,” Wendle said. “I went to track that ball and I looked up and it was kind of that Twilight hour, tough to see. My mindset was just, ‘I’m gonna get that ball. I’m not gonna give up on it until I hear some something else.’ I just drifted and kept drifting and then ended up all the way in right field. It was pretty much a routine fly ball to De La. I know from the outside it would be easy for me to be embarrassed and be like, ‘What in the world was I doing out there?’ But I wouldn’t be embarrassed by going after a ball and continuing to be aggressive on a ball like that when I felt like there was reason to believe that maybe he was having a hard time seeing it, too. Just being over aggressive. I’m sure he called it, but I didn’t hear it. Just one of those that obviously looks bad, but it’s in the past.”
Wendle also helped turn three double plays on the night.
This and that
▪ Garrett on his outing, in which he gave up four runs (three earned) over 4 2/3 innings while allowing eight hits that included a pair of home runs in the fourth inning to Realmuto and Jean Segura: “I thought all right. I just couldn’t get anything to the glove side of the plate tonight. I was kind of blocking myself off mechanically and made a few too many mistakes to a team that will make you pay.”
▪ Trevor Rogers (back spams) threw 56 pitches over 3 1/3 innings while giving up two runs (one earned) and striking out five in his first rehab start with the Double A Pensacola Blue Wahoos on Tuesday.
Rogers said he feels “pretty close” to be able to return and is eligible to be activated from the injured list at any point.
▪ Charles Leblanc hit a two-out single in the second inning and has safely reached base in each of his first nine MLB games.