The Mariners' No. 14 prospect was a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs scored and one RBI in Class A Advanced High Desert's 16-3 win at home over Lancaster in Game 2 of the California League semifinals. The game, which tied the series at 1-1, marked the first four-run game of the 22-year-old's two-year career and was his fifth four-hit game of the 2012 season.
The hitting display was a welcome sign for Marder, who was batting .238 in 10 games during the month of August before going down with the hamstring injury.
"It was all about putting myself in decent position to succeed," said the Mavericks designated hitter. "Before tonight, I don't know if you'd say I was overswinging, but I was popping up a lot to the infield or flying out to the warning track. Tonight, I just wanted to hit hard groundballs or put the ball the other way. When I got the pitch I was looking for, I think I was able to do that pretty well."
Indeed, three of the right-handed Marder's singles came on the ground while his fourth was sprayed to right field. All four of his hits came in the game's first five innings, during which he accounted for four of High Desert's 15 runs up to that point.
The California native was lifted by manager Pedro Grifol in the sixth inning for pinch-hitter Julio Morban with a 15-1 lead firmly in hand. The move came as only a precautionary measure in his second game back from the disabled list.
"Whenever a manager makes a decision like that, you have to go along with it," Marder said. "Tonight it happened to be because we had a big lead. ... He just told me it's important for the series that I not risk anything, and that point, you don't want to question him."
But would he have been able to play otherwise? Marder wants to assure everyone he was, is and will be.
"I feel good enough to play and help the team out," he said. "That's all that matters. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here."
In those 65 games he was in the High Desert lineup this season, the Mariners' 16th-round pick from the 2011 Draft, who played catcher, second base, left field and DH for the Mavs this season, produced a .360/.425/.583/1.008 hitting line with 10 homers and 56 RBIs. Had he enough at-bats to qualify, he would have led the Cal League in batting average and would have ranked second in OPS.
Those are usually good numbers to hang your hat on, but Marder held his regular season up to a different metric.
"It's been tough in terms of being on the DL a lot," said the California League All-Star, "but this has been one of the most fun teams I've ever played on. We're all really close, and it's been great to be surrounded by these guys. Obviously, I'd rather be out there longer, but we have a great staff here. In terms of wins and losses, which are the most important thing, I'd say the whole thing's been a success because we're here in the playoffs."
Steven Proscia went 2-for-3 with a homer, four RBIs and tied his High Desert teammate with four runs. Dennis Raben also drove in four on a 3-for-4 night. In all, each Mavericks starter either drove in or scored a run.
As odd as it sounds, such an offensive performance may not be a big surprise coming from the squad that led the circuit in every major offensive category while playing in one of the Minors' most famous hitter havens in Mavericks Stadium.
But Marder insists the team can put up Sunday's numbers at any other park, something the Mavericks need to do if they hope to win Games 3 or 4, both of which are at Lancaster.
"We're a really good hitting team, we all know that," Marder said. "As long as we get the ball rolling, we feel like we can hit anywhere."
Trevor Miller (1-0) allowed just one run on six hits and struck out seven over six innings to earn the victory.
JetHawks third baseman Jonathan Meyer finished 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
In other California League playoff action:
Bakersfield 8, Modesto 5
The Blaze took a 2-0 series lead at home with both teams heading to Modesto for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary. Reds' No. 10 prospect Ryan Wright powered the offense, going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Danny Viscoso was also 2-for-4, contributing his own longball with two RBIs.
Jared Clark, Juan Crousset and Joey Wong went deep in the loss. Box score