His voice dripping with sarcasm, slugger Giancarlo Stanton gave a whoop-dee-doo response when asked about finally driving in his first run of the season.
“Oh my gosh,” Stanton said. “Hallelujah.”
There was no reason for Stanton — or anyone else on the Marlins — to rejoice. By the time Stanton got around to delivering his first RBI, it was the ninth inning of an eventual 10-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
“I probably could have batted left-handed and done the equivalent of what I’ve done so far this year until my last at-bat,” Stanton said. “Like I said, I couldn’t play worse if I tried.”
He’s not exaggerating. Not by much.
Though he finally drove in his first run on Sunday, Stanton also struck out three times and committed his third fielding error of the Cincinnati series when he couldn’t come up with a base hit in the Reds’ eight-run seventh inning.
He is hitting just .188 and has yet to hit a home run.
“It’s just one of those things when everything is going bad, it’s going bad,” he said.
Is it ever, and not just for Stanton.
After dropping three of four to the Reds, the Marlins headed up to Minnesota with the worst record in the majors, and no sign that it will get better anytime soon. Until the ninth, when the Marlins scored four garbage-time runs, they were on their way to being held to two runs or fewer for the 13th time in their 19 games.
It didn’t happen, only because Stanton came through with a two-out single in the ninth, and Miguel Olivo followed with a three-run homer.
With their bullpen exhausted by Saturday’s heavy workload in a 13-inning loss to the Reds, the Marlins leaned on Alex Sanabia to eat up innings on Sunday. He made it to the seventh before falling apart in a major Reds uprising, giving the ball to Jon Rauch with the bases loaded and no outs in what was a 2-2 tie.
“Rauch was our one fresh arm, and we brought him into a tough situation,” manager Mike Redmond said. “And it just didn’t work.”
To say the least. The Reds erupted for eight runs, sending a dozen batters to the plate in the pivotal inning. Shin-Soo Choo reached twice in the eighth — with a walk and a double — and terrorized the Marlins throughout the season.
Choo reached base in11 of his 12 total plate appearances Saturday and Sunday and improved on his majors-leading on-base percentage, increasing it to a ridiculous .523. Joey Votto also haunted the Marlins in the series and did so again Sunday by going 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBI.
The Marlins, meanwhile, struck out 14 times Sunday and have likely earned the ire of a local pizza chain, which gives away free pizzas whenever Reds pitchers whiff 11 or more. The Marlins brought joy to Reds fans in three of the four games and fell one strikeout short on Saturday of making it a clean sweep.
The season, so far, has been a disaster for Stanton and the Marlins.
Because Stanton becomes eligible for salary arbitration following the season, the slump could hurt him in the wallet if he doesn’t turn things around.
“You can only move forward,” Stanton said. “I’m not worried about it, but it’s the reality.”
Redmond is hoping that the end of Stanton’s RBI drought will get him going at the plate, as well as in the field where Stanton hasn’t looked sharp, either.
“We’re hoping that’s something to build off,” Redmond said. “Our lineup changes dramatically when he’s swinging the bat.
“He’s a big part of our team and a big part of our lineup, and we need him to get that bat going. He knows that, too.”
Stanton is hoping for better days at the plate and in the field, too.
“It’s not like I was taking offense to defense,” Stanton said. “If I would have said, ‘I didn’t get a hit, so I’m going to do this [half-hearted],’ no. I can’t explain it.”