No Giancarlo Stanton?
No problem. At least for one game.
The Marlins didn’t miss Stanton’s power on Monday, with both Chris Johnson and Marcell Ozuna going deep with home runs in a 6-3 victory over the Reds.
Toss in a solid start from David Phelps, and the Marlins survived Day 2 without their $325 million slugger, who is likely out for the season with a groin injury.
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The victory gave the Marlins back-to-back wins for the first time this month and drew them even with the idle St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
One of the pressing questions surrounding the Marlins as they try to maintain contending position in the wild card race is who will supply power with both Stanton and first baseman Justin Bour on the disabled list.
Johnson was the first to answer the call when he connected on a solo shot in the fourth off Brandon Finnegan that landed just inside the foul pole in right.
“It’s not a home run at our place, that’s for sure,” Johnson said of power-favoring Great American Ball Park. “But I’m glad I hit it here and not at home.”
Two innings later, Ozuna hit his 20th home run, a solo shot to center.
Johnson said it would be foolish for anyone to think that any one player on the Marlins can replace Stanton’s home run strength.
“I’m not going to make up for the power,” Johnson said. “Don’t look at me.”
But Johnson said the Marlins still have the capacity to score runs.
“I just think we have to do things a little bit differently,” said Johnson, who also drove in a run with a double. “We’ve got to get guys over. We’ve got to get guys in, instead of having Stanton’s 40 homers in the lineup. We’re going to miss him, that’s for sure. Because it’s nice when he gets going and he kind of carry us for a while. We’re going to have to do it as a team now.”
Phelps, meanwhile, notched his first win as a starter since last season.
Making his third start since moving from the bullpen, Phelps lasted 5 1/3 innings, holding the Reds to a run on four hits. He struck out eight. Phelps said he is treating his starts like hold situations out of the bullpen.
“I talked to (Marlins team psychologist) Rob Seifer after my first start,” Phelps said. “And he was like why can’t you just look at it every time you take the mound every inning that it’s a hold situation, where it’s a one-run lead and you’ve got to put up a zero to keep the hold? So that’s kind of the way I’m taking it right now. It’s worked. It’s helped me stay aggressive. And I’ve had good results so far.”
After Phelps was lifted with a 4-1 lead, the bullpen nearly gave it all back.
Brian Ellington walked two of the three batters he faced, leaving the bases loaded for situational lefty Hunter Cervenka. Cervenka walked Scott Schebler on five pitches, forcing in one run.
The Reds cut the lead to one in the sixth on Adeiny Hechavarria’s throwing error.
But Dee Gordon gave the Marlins some cushion in the eighth when he beat out an infield hit and two runs scored on the play.
Manager Don Mattingly was ejected in the second for arguing a checked swing call. It was Mattingly’s third ejection this season. Bench coach Tim Wallach took over managerial chores after that.
“The one thing is you can’t replace (Stanton),” Wallach said. “But our guys understand that we can win whoever we send out there. I think these guys believe in themselves, and we believe in them, that we can win regardless who we send out there.”