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Casey McGehee dealing with first "slump"; Salty stinks as DH

HOUSTON -- Players generally aren't grilled after they've gone three games without a hit. Three-game drought? No big deal. It's not uncommon and happens to the best of them.

But Casey McGehee opened up about his first such "slump" as the Marlins prepared to open a weekend interleague series against the Houston Astros.

"It's going to happen," said McGehee of his mini drought, which covered the final three games of the Marlins' series in Atlanta. "I'm a little frustrated the last couple of days because I feel like I haven't been swinging the bat like I've wanted to. But I think maybe I was just a little overanxious."

McGehee finds his name atop two disparate statistical categories. He leads the National League in hitting with runners in scoring position (a .382 average) and grounding into double plays (19). McGehee grounded into three double plays in the Atlanta series to increase his major league lead in that category. Next on the list is Kansas City's Billy Butler with 17.

Part of the reason McGehee has been so successful at driving in runs is that he often finds himself at the plate when the Marlins have runners in scoring position. But base runners also create more opportunities for grounding into double plays, and McGehee has had more than his share of those. Being a ground ball hitter doesn't help. Nor does his lack of speed.

"I've always hit into my fair share of double plays," McGehee said. "It's something I don't like to do, obviously. But, yeah, I think it's a combination of getting guys on base and using the middle of the field. It's not like I'm beating out the medium ground ball either, so there's a couple of things that play into it."

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Due to the use of the designated hitter in the Houston series, the Marlins on Friday called up catcher J.T. Realmuto from Triple A New Orleans to give them an extra bat. Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani was optioned back to New Orleans.

DH honors for the first game of the series go to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who asked me to "write about how awful I am as a DH."

The reason? After I wrote about his defensive woes for this morning's paper, a story that was filed before last night's game, Saltalamacchia had his best game in quite a while when he went 3 for 4, drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and threw out a base runner. Salty figured if I wrote about his poor numbers as a DH, the effect would be the same.

So here they are: Saltalamacchia has gone 16 for 69 (.232) with only one homer in his career as a DH.

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Tyler Kolek, the Marlins' first round draft pick, came out of Wednesday's outing with the GCL Marlins after facing only four batters due to a sore back. Kolek, the second overall pick in the draft, was diagnosed with a lower back sprain, and the Marlins don't feel it's serious.

Kolek is on "no-throw" status until next week when he has another precautionary X-ray to make sure everything's okay.

"It's been improvement and less pain since that time," said Marlins general manager Dan Jennings.

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According to STATS LLC, last night's win in Atlanta marked only the second time in Marlins history that the game-winning run came as a result of a strikeout/wild pitch. Marcell Ozuna reached -- and eventually scored the deciding run -- after Craig Kimbrel struck him out in the ninth, but the ball got away from the catcher.

The other time it happened for the Marlins: the second inning on May 3, 1994, when Ron Tingley scored on a bases-loaded walk by Gary Sheffield to score the first run in an eventual 6-3 win over the Braves.

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Tonight's lineups:

Marlins: 1. Christian Yelich 7; 2. Donovan Solano 4; 3. Giancarlo Stanton 9; 4. Casey McGehee 5; 5. Jeff Baker 3; 6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia dh; 7. Marcell Ozuna 8; Adeiny Hechavarria 6; 9. Jeff Mathis 2. Pitching: Brad Hand (1-2, 4.86).

Astros: 1. Jose Altuve 4; 2. Kike Hernandez 8; 3. Chris Carter dh; 4. Matt Dominguez 5; 5. Jesus Guzman 3; 6. Jason Castro 2; 7. Robbie Grossman 9; 8. L.J. Hoes 7; 9. Gregorio Petit 6. Pitching: Dallas Keuchel (9-6, 3.29). 

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