A.J. Ellis works it to lead Miami Marlins past Arizona Diamondbacks

By Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
A.J. Ellis's epic at-bat in the seventh helped lift the Miami Marlins past the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Photo courtesy Miami Marlins/Twitter
A.J. Ellis's epic at-bat in the seventh helped lift the Miami Marlins past the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Photo courtesy Miami Marlins/Twitter

MIAMI -- Ten foul balls, 14 total pitches, nearly all of them filthy.

That's what backup catcher A.J. Ellis did on Sunday, and that's what he faced in perhaps the most impressive at-bat for a Miami Marlins player this season.


On a 3-2 count, Ellis drove home the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh inning, leading Miami to a 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park.

"I was glad I didn't have to swing anymore," Ellis said when asked for his reaction once he had stroked his single to left field. "I was getting gassed."

The pitch Ellis finally put in play was a 100-mph fastball by reliever Archie Bradley, who has a 1.40 ERA and "an electric fastball", according to Ellis. Bradley threw two pitches in that at-bat that reached triple digits.


"He beat me on my best pitch," Bradley said. "I tip my cap to him."

Here's how the events unfolded in the game's pivotal inning:

With the score tied 5-5, Miami's Derek Dietrich doubled. Bradley came in and struck out Tyler Moore on three pitches.

That brought up Ellis, who entered the day hitting just .175 but has a knack for winning games. The Marlins are just 24-31 overall but 8-3 when Ellis starts.

Ellis fouled off the first pitch and then took a ball. Ellis then fouled off three pitches before taking another ball to even the count, 2-2. Ellis fouled off four more pitches. To this point, all 10 pitches thrown by Bradley were fastballs.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he understood Bradley's insistence on throwing heat.

"(Ellis) is late, late, late -- you don't (as a pitcher) want to give him a chance to catch up with a breaking ball," Mattingly said. "(But as a hitter), you never know when the breaking ball is coming."

On the 11th pitch, it came, and Ellis fouled that one, too.

"It was nasty," Ellis said of the breaking ball. "I was fortunate to get a piece of it."


On the 13th pitch, Bradley finally threw another ball, forcing the count full. The next pitch was another big fastball, and Ellis came through.

"I knew I had to be quick," Ellis said. "I couldn't try to over-swing. I kept fighting, fighting, fighting. I was fortunate that those (earlier swings) were foul balls and not a lazy fly ball somewhere. And I was finally able to get on top of one."

Ellis' heroics, coupled with a three-run homer by Moore, helped Miami win its third consecutive series. The Marlins have also won seven of their past eight games and closed out an 8-2 homestand.

Arizona (34-25) had won three straight games before losing the final three games of this series. The Diamondbacks, who were 5-6 on this road trip, got two doubles and two RBIs from David Descalso and a double, a single and two RBIs from Paul Goldschmidt.

Miami used six relievers in place of ineffective starter Vance Worley, including Nick Wittgren (1-0), who earned the win by pitching two-thirds of an inning. A.J. Ramos earned his eighth save of the season.

Arizona fell behind 3-1 in the second on Moore's homer. But the Diamondbacks battled back. After a two-run double by Descalso tied the score 4-4 in the fourth, Goldschmidt's double to left-center later in the frame gave Arizona a 5-4 lead. Goldschmidt missed a homer by inches on that drive.


"We got some early hits," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of his team's overall performance. "We had opportunities. But it didn't translate (to a win)."

Miami tied the score in the fifth. Giancarlo Stanton hit a leadoff double, advanced to third on a fly out and scored on Dietrich's second sacrifice fly of the game.

That set it up for Ellis' epic at-bat in the seventh.

"It was a huge at-bat," Mattingly said. "Even if he didn't get a hit, at that point, it was a great at-bat no matter what happened."

NOTES: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez, who pitched a no-hitter on Saturday, has a swollen right ankle and his status for his next start is uncertain. ... Arizona sent RHP Silvino Bracho to Triple-A Reno. ... Of Arizona's next 30 games, 19 will be at home. That stretch starts on Tuesday when Arizona hosts the San Diego Padres. Arizona will throw LHP Robbie Ray, who has a 24 2/3-innings scoreless streak that is the third-longest in franchise history. ... Miami rested red-hot 1B Justin Bour, who was hitting just .133 with no homers on April 17. Since then, he is hitting .347 with 15 homers and 36 RBIs in 41 games. He is tied for first in the majors for most homers during that span. ... Miami is at the Chicago Cubs on Monday, which marks the start of a seven-game road trip.


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