Stanton keeps coming up clutch
MIAMI — All the opposing scouting reports are saying the same thing: Don’t let the big guy beat us.
The Mariners were really trying not to be in that situation, but couldn’t avoid it. Twice they intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton. The trouble was, he had three other at-bats. In those, he ripped an RBI single, lined a second single that was nearly snared at first. And then in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded and no-outs, they had no choice but to pitch to Stanton.
The Marlins slugger made them pay with a walk-off grand slam, giving Miami an 8-4 win at Marlns Park.
Stanton drove in five runs, and boosted his MLB lead to 26. And he is making a strong case to be the NL’s Player of the Month.
The Marlins are 7-10 on the season. In their seven wins, Stanton has the game-winning RBI in six of them. Marcell Ozuna has the other.
The franchise record for game-winning RBIs in a season is 21, set by Gary Sheffield in 1996. Miguel Cabrera (2005) and Jorge Cantu (2009) are second at 19.
At this pace, Stanton should seriously challenge. But it will be interesting to see how team’s approach the 24-year-old slugger from this point forward.
Entering Friday night, Stanton had been intentionally walked just once. Seattle did it twice, and likely would have done so again in the ninth, had Ozuna’s sacrifice bunt been clean.
If that occurred, and Miami had runners on second and third with one out, Stanton would have been walked. It would have then been up to Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee to close the deal.
Manager Mike Redmond has been going with the left-handed hitting Jones against right-handed starters, and McGehee there against lefties.
Against a lefty, Redmond has wanted a right-handed hitter behind Stanton. He may consider a similar strategy for clubs with multiple lefty relievers, like Seattle.
An option to bat cleanup is Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, who blasted a long home run on Friday.
Saltalamacchia behind Stanton gives a threat to at least get a single or sacrifice fly.
Jones could slide to fifth or six. Fifth could be more likely, especially if left-handed hitting Derek Dietrich is batting seventh.
An order of Christian Yelich, Ozuna, Stanton, Salty, Jones, McGehee, Dietrich and Adeiny Hechavarria certainly balances righty and lefty hitters.
– Joe Frisaro