Wednesday afternoon’s last out was a swinging strikeout by Giancarlo Stanton, the final indignity on a day that saw the Marlins right fielder whiff four times in as many at-bats.
That sealed a 4-2 loss in the rubber game of a three-game series against the Phillies and concluded a 3-4 road trip for the Marlins.
Stanton also fanned three times in Tuesday’s loss to Philadelphia and nine times in 11 hitless at-bats in the series. Overall, he is mired in a 1-for-18 slump that has seen him strike out 12 times.
And afterward he acknowledged the obvious, saying he is “playing like [expletive].”
“Can’t do it no more,” he added, meaning that it cannot continue. “We’re not going to be successful when you’re getting zero production out of your cleanup guy. I’ve said that before, and that clearly shows you’re not going to win series.”
Manager Don Mattingly believes the team’s offensive problems are more widespread. One day after the Marlins equaled a franchise record by striking out 17 times, they managed just six hits off four Phillies pitchers. Their only runs came in the top of the first.
“He’s one guy on our team,” Mattingly said of Stanton, “and honestly the last two games probably [featured the] worst at-bats of the season for us.”
After earning a 5-3 victory in Monday’s series opener, Mattingly said, “We basically just kind of show up the next two days. I don’t think we can put everything on Giancarlo. We had some guys with some good at-bats, but we give a lot of at-bats away. We have a lot of easy outs.”
Miami managed only four hits after the first inning and grounded into three double plays. At one point Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson (4-2) retired 11 in a row.
“We’ve basically played like a team without any urgency at all the last two days, and that’s not how you win,” Mattingly said. “That’s how you get yourself in the back of the pack. The last two days have been really disappointing.”
Stanton understandably remains the focal point. Against Hellickson he whiffed on a changeup in the first inning, and on sliders in the fourth and sixth. After one of those strikeouts Stanton was seen shattering a bat in the dugout.
In the ninth, Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez, who leads the majors with 16 saves, got him swinging on a 1-2 changeup. Stanton insisted that he foul-tipped the pitch, to no avail.
“Not reviewable,” he said.
Nor did he wish to review the reasons for his struggles. When asked if he is failing to recognize pitches he said, “I’m not going into that.”
“I just see him on his heels,” Mattingly said. “That’s the biggest thing. … Usually, when guys are in trouble they’re on their heels a little bit. They’re not seeing the ball good.”
Mattingly again said that Stanton is one of many guys who need to pick it up.
“It’s not like we can sit here and blame everything on Giancarlo because he’s in a slump,” he said. “That’s not right. We talked about being a team all year long. We get two in the first and don’t show up after that. He’s one of eight guys going to the plate.”
Stanton wasn’t buying that.
“It stems from one, I guess, sometimes,” he said.
Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna drove in runs with first-inning doubles, but the Phillies scored three times off Tom Koehler (2-4) in the third to take the lead for good. The big blows were an RBI double by Andres Blanco and a two-run single by Cameron Rupp. In the eighth, Tyler Goeddel hit his first career homer, a solo shot off reliever Jose Urena to make it 4-2.
“This is a division that’s going to be tough to win, and you just can’t afford to give games away,” Mattingly said. “Today felt like one that we just let get away from us.”