MLB: Christian Walker, D-backs take aim at Marlins again

Christian Walker got off to a lukewarm start this season, but suddenly his bat is sizzling.

The Arizona first baseman, who has six homers over the past eight games, will look to extend his power surge when the Diamondbacks host the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night in the middle contest of a three-game set in Phoenix.

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Walker hit a 459-foot, tie-breaking homer in the sixth inning of Monday’s series opener to help Arizona post a 5-2 victory. The Diamondbacks have won seven of their past 10 games.

Walker had just three homers in his first 25 games this season before the hot streak.

He also is doing more than supplying the long ball. Walker has seven multi-hit outings over the past nine games and is batting .425 (17-for-40) with 13 RBIs and 11 runs during that stretch.

Yet Walker was more interested in talking about another hot-hitting Diamondbacks player, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., after Monday’s victory.

The Cuban-born Gurriel became a U.S. citizen on Monday and was excused from all pregame activities.

“Big shout-out to my man Gurriel Jr. for becoming a citizen today,” Walker said while wearing American flag sunglasses. “I think he was traveling all day. The guys are super pumped up for him.”

Gurriel figures to be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday. He was 8-for-11 with four homers, six RBIs, nine runs and four walks over a three-game span before being available only as a pinch hitter on Monday.

Gurriel, 29, came off the bench to walk in the sixth inning. That momentarily placed him at first base with his older brother, Yuli Gurriel of the Marlins, before Alek Thomas came on to pinch-run. The Gurriel brothers defected from Cuba in 2016.

“That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment for him,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’re certainly proud of him.”

The Marlins are in a far different frame of mind, having dropped six of their past seven games.

Miami’s team-wise frustrations were summed up by third baseman Jean Segura’s ejection for arguing a called strike three in the sixth inning.

Segura, a two-time All-Star with 1,500 career hits, is batting just .186 with no homers and three RBIs through 33 games in his first season with the Marlins.

“He’s frustrated. There’s no doubt about it,” Miami manager Skip Schumaker said after the Monday loss. “It’s not the start he wanted a month into his career here as a Marlin.

“Frustration, some borderline calls that could have gone either way, the combination of things that are happening. He’s a veteran that has been very successful in his career, and it isn’t going the way he’s wanted.”

Schumaker said Segura might receive a couple of days off to reset. Segura recently declined such an overture, saying he wanted to play himself out of the slow start.

Left-hander Jesus Luzardo (2-2, 3.66 ERA) will start for Miami on Tuesday. He has struck out 43 in 39 1/3 innings.

Luzardo, 25, is 0-2 in four starts since last winning on April 11. He lost to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday when he gave up four runs (three earned) and seven hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Luzardo is 1-1 with a 6.94 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks. Evan Longoria is 3-for-6 with a homer and Ketel Marte is 2-for-3 against Luzardo.

Right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (0-0, 13.50) will make his second career start for the Diamondbacks. The 2020 fifth-round draft pick will hope this one goes better than his debut.

Pfaadt, 24, served up four homers against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. He gave up seven runs and nine hits over 4 2/3 innings.

Pfaadt was 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Reno before his recent promotion.

–Field Level Media

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