Devastating blow once again tests Marlins

PHILADELPHIA — When Jose Fernandez needed season-ending Tommy John surgery in May, the Marlins withstood the initial shock and were able to push forward.

Without their ace, they managed to remain in Wild Card contention.

And in early August, when a disputed call at the plate was overturned opening up a big inning for the Reds in Miami, again the Marlins weathered the though break and rebounded. Despite long odds, they hung around close to .500 and within striking distance of the final playoff spot.

A major reason the Marlins didn’t disappear was because of the one constant every single day.

Through all the ups and downs the season presented, All-Star Giancarlo Stanton did as much if not more than any single player in the Majors to help carry his team.

Stanton has been unmovable rock, refusing to come out of the lineup. He’s played in all 145 games, batting .288 with 37 homers, 105 RBIs, 89 runs scored, 94 walks and 24 intentional walks.

One of his goals was to play in all 162 games.

Driven to become MLB’s best player, Stanton worked tirelessly on his craft to improve on the field. Off the field, he trained rigorously in the weight room and did everything possible to be prepared every night.

With 17 games remaining, the Marlins are in Philadelphia on Friday for a three-game series with the Phillies. Stanton, meanwhile, is traveling back to Miami for further evaluation after being struck in the face by a Mike Fiers’ fastball in the fifth inning on Thursday night at Miller Park.

Stanton suffered multiple facial fractures and needed stitches. Additional damage was done to his mouth that required dental work.

“It’s devastating for us,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Devastating. For his season to end like that, that’s not good.”

These are the injuries we know about thus far. He may have a concussion, but that wasn’t noted.

Along with having an MVP-caliber season, Stanton also was winding down what could have been the most profilic, power-wise, in Marlins’ history. The franchise home run record is 42, set by Gary Sheffield in 1996. Stanton could have challenged the mark, or at least been the second Marlin to reach at least 40.

With 154 career homers, Stanton is tied with Dan Uggla for the club’s all-time mark. One more blast and he stands alone atop the club’s leaderboard.

“We just lost the MVP,” Redmond said. “Hit in the mouth.”

The pitch came with two outs in the fifth inning of a game Miami lost 4-2 to now fall 5 1/2 games back.

“You hate to see it happen to anybody, it just so happened to be – to happen to the best player in the National Leage this year,” third baseman Casey McGehee said. “Right now, I just hope G’s OK.”

Joe Frisaro

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