Astros: Jake Marisnick silences his critics offensively and defensively

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HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 26: Jake Marisnick #6 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Josh Reddick #22 after making a catch at the wall by Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 26: Jake Marisnick #6 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Josh Reddick #22 after making a catch at the wall by Justin Smoak #14 of the Toronto Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Jake Marisnick helps the Astros shutout the Blue Jays.

After beating the Toronto Blue Jays last night, the Astros have played 81 games in 2018. At the halfway mark, the Astros have 53 wins, which is still tied with the Red Sox for the most in baseball. There is no secret to why the Astros continue to win. They do so by allowing the fewest runs in baseball at 246 while scoring the most with 419 runs scored via ESPN. They are a balanced team with very few holes.

We all remember waiting for George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman to make their debuts during the process. We now find ourselves doing the same thing for Kyle Tucker, who is on fire in Triple-A. The big difference now is that the Astros don’t need Tucker right now, but instead, the fans want to see what he can do in the MLB. But who would go down so Tucker could be called up?

As I wrote yesterday, if Evan Gattis and Tony Kemp were struggling, we may have been more likely to see Tucker up. Gattis is in the middle of a resurgence at the plate and Kemp is showing that he belongs. Tyler White is up right now, but as soon as Joe Smith is ready, he may be going down.

That leaves only one player in the hot seat, Jake Marisnick.

Once one of the fanbase’s favorite underdogs on the team, the fans have turned on him quickly. Before last night’s game, Marisnick was batting .176 while striking out 63 times in 136 at-bats. Marisnick worked with Dave Hudgens before yesterday’s game during batting practice. At one point, Hudgens recorded Marisnick to show him what he’s seeing. Whatever they worked on, it appeared to have worked for at least one night.

In Marisnick’s first at-bat, he hit a double to left field. Unfortunately, Brian McCann stranded two runners on during that inning. In his second at-bat, Marisnick struck out. During his third at-bat, Marisnick did something he has done four times this year. He walked. Before we talk about what he did in his fourth at-bat, let’s discuss the game-saving play by Marisnick in the sixth inning.

Charlie Morton had pitched well but got into a little jam in the sixth inning after two outs. Teoscar Hernandez hit a single and Yangervis Solarte walked, bringing up last year’s All-Star Justin Smoak. Marisnick made a great catch leaping up onto the wall by the visitor’s bullpen. This was a do or die play for Marisnick. Had he missed the ball, it would have most likely bounced off the wall away from the outfielders. Both runners could have scored.

Marisnick still has value to the team.

Despite his inconsistency on offense this year, he is an elite defender in centerfielder. The timing of that catch is not something you can teach. You have to have that ability to catch it. The Blue Jays did the same thing the night before when Randal Grichuk robbed Springer’s homer. That homer would have tied the game. It was a great play by Marisnick during a close game at that time.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Marisnick came up with two runners on base with one out. He worked the count full before crushing a three-run homer to put the game out of reach. While the great showing by Marisnick only raised his batting average to .187, it did more to help his confidence. He looked a lot calmer and in control at the plate.

Next: If you’re seeking bullpen help, look at Blake Treinen

Should Marisnick start performing well on a more consistent basis, it will put some more roadblocks for Tucker to debut. Jeff Luhnow has already hinted that Tucker could be up at some point later this summer. Hopefully, Marisnick can follow in Gattis’ footsteps and heat up down the stretch. Marisnick can contribute with his speed and defense, but he must put the ball in play more often.

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