Giancarlo Stanton turned inevitability into reality — and history — Monday night.
He hit his 43rd home run of the season, breaking the Marlins’ single-season record with a two-run shot to left field in the first inning against the Giants at Marlins Park. Miami beat San Francisco, 8-3, but in another season lost to mediocrity, the on-field product overshadowed by off-field drama, Stanton’s at-bats and his recent hot streak have turned into the main event.
Giants left-hander Ty Blach started Stanton off with a pair of fastballs inside for balls. His third pitch, another fastball, was in nearly the same spot as the second. Stanton hammered it a modest 382 feet into the visitors’ bullpen for an early Marlins lead and another piece of the Marlins’ record book.
“Something special,” Stanton said. “When you’re one homer or one hit away from a record, you don’t want to let it linger because then every at-bat is, are you going to do it? Are you going to do it? Luckily I got it out of the way right away.”
Among those in the stands was Stanton’s father, Mike Stanton, who decided late Sunday night to fly in from Southern California.
“He didn’t want to let another game go by that I might hit it,” Giancarlo said. “He barely made the first at-bat, too, and that was it.”
The Marlins celebrated the win and record — mostly the record — with a postgame toast in the clubhouse. They also put Stanton in a rolling laundry basket and wheeled it into the shower, dumping all sorts of substances on him — alcohol, soap, shaving cream, anything within reach — per their usual acknowledgment of personal achievements.
Stanton’s latest milestone is another bullet point on his growing resume as the best Marlin ever. He is the all-time franchise leader in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, extra-base hits, at-bats per home run and Wins Above Replacement (in both the FanGraphs and Baseball Reference versions).
Now, along with the single-season homer mark, Stanton is threatening for the RBI record (at 93; record is 121) and the slugging percentage record (at .640; record is .624).
Monday, meanwhile, was Stanton’s fifth consecutive game with a homer, also best in franchise history, plus his 10th long ball in 11 games and 22nd in 34 games.
“It's been an amazing little run, that's for sure,” manager Don Mattingly said. “You always like to be around when guys are doing special things, and seeing things like that. This game always seems to have something. Somebody is breaking a record or doing something no one else has done, even when it's within an organization. You always like to being around and seeing guys who are having that kind of success.”
Or, as Dee Gordon phrased it: “He’s on a sick tear, man. He’s amazing.”
Stanton is, in short, hitting better than he has at any other point in eight seasons as a major leaguer.
“And it looks like he’s having some fun,” Mattingly said Monday afternoon. “When he’s doing that, it puts us in a lot better position.”
The Marlins’ single-season homer record was previously held by Gary Sheffield, who hit 42 in 1996. The major league record for consecutive games with a long ball is eight, set by Mattingly in 1987 and tied by Ken Griffey Jr. in 1993.
Stanton’s torrid stretch earned him National League Player of the Week honors Monday, capping a week in which he homered six times in seven games.
And Stanton’s teammates have gone along for a ride. Over the weekend, that meant a sweep of the Colorado Rockies. On Monday, it meant a 2-0 lead in the first inning — before the Marlins had even made an out. Gordon singled before Stanton went deep.
The rest of the game went about as well.
“A lot of good things happened, where you play the type of game you like to see,” Mattingly said.
Left-hander Adam Conley pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs, all in the third inning and two coming in on Denard Span’s ground-rule double.
He struck out nobody for the first time in 48 career starts. The only other game in which he had zero punchouts was his major league debut on June 10, 2015, a one-inning relief appearance.
“In hindsight, it looks like a really good night,” Conley said. “But while I was out there, I was really battling.”
Marcell Ozuna highlighted the Marlins’ other scoring with a solo blast, 456 feet into the camera well in straightaway center. Gordon went 3 for 5, Christian Yelich 2 for 5.
Even Stanton’s non-homer plate appearances were theater. In the third, he flew out to the wall in left-center. “Don’t get me started with this place,” Stanton said, with a smile, of Marlins Park. An inning he later he grounded a single through the left side for an RBI.
And by the sixth, the Giants wised up, intentionally walking Stanton with first base open and a runner on second. Boos ensued.
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