(Busch Stadium) Arguably, it was the best at-bat of the season for Marcell Ozuna. Stepping to the box with the bases loaded in the 1st inning of today’s game, the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder fouled a line shot down both the third and first base lines before drilling a 3-2 pitch 427 feet over the wall in left center for a grand slam off Chicago’s Jose Quintana.
“Yeah, it was one of my better, I just kind of pulled that one,” said Ozuna. “I just grinded the at-bat…got my feeling back. It was a little struggle. Sometimes I try to do too much, sometimes I try not to do as much or too hard and it makes me go into the hole.”
The first foul ball from Ozuna went off Yadier Molina at third base, who assured his teammate he was okay–on one condition.
“He said ‘it’s okay, don’t worry. I can get ice. If you hit a homer you’re good. If you strikeout, me and you are pissed off’,” laughed Ozuna. “It was okay.”
The grand slam was the second of the season for Ozuna and snapped his career-high streak of 35 games without a homerun.
“Just the timing,” explained Ozuna. “I think the timing has been a struggle this season. I’ve tried to do my best. Sometimes going forward, one week, three days, four days, and then coming back–I can tell what it is, but at the same time I just keep grinding, trying to do my best.”
Sharing that new hitting coach Mark Budaska had told him to keep both eyes on the pitcher, Ozuna also stated having a different voice to work with was not an issue.
“No, no, no you can’t make any excuses on that,” said Ozuna. “It’s just a different pitch. A different approach. Sometimes you go in crazy, sometimes you go in smart and get a good pitch to hit. That’s the timing. The timing is the best part to hit a baseball.”
“It’s like something you feel…you try and go get it, but at the same time you see it, then you take a pitch. So I say, let’s go. Let’s keep grinding and swinging the bat. That’s how you get out of a slump.”
Besides the grand slam, Ozuna had an additional pair of hits which marked his 30th multi-hit game of the season.
MOVE OVER LANCE LYNN
–Not only has Miles Mikolas stepped in to shoulder the innings load that was used to be carried by the departed Lance Lynn, the right-hander is showing a comedic flare in postgames.
“That’s huge,” praised Miles Mikolas of Ozuna’s grand slam. “I know what it’s like to be in a slump. I think I had like an 0-30 this year. Pretty rough, so I know how it feels to break out of that. Especially against a team like the Cubs, for him to get a hit like that in that inning is huge.”
“I feel like I’m real locked in,” continued a dead-panning Mikolas. “I had that hit against Arizona before the break. I’ve been putting the ball in play a lot more–more competitive at-bats. I was able to squeeze one through the infield today, felt really good.”
“That ball got in on me, but I’ve been watching a lot of our hitters lately,” added Mikolas. “They keep their hands inside the ball really well, so I was just trying to mimic that and shoot something the other way.”
Mikolas has now held opponents to three runs or less in each of his last seven starts.
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports