One of the hardest balls Giancarlo Stanton hit all night Friday was a foul screamer into the Marlins dugout that nearly took out teammate Dee Gordon. The close call brought a smile to Gordon, who then pointed toward the outfield as if to say, “hit it there.”
Stanton did eventually do that.
But it wasn’t the outcome a crowd of 19,527 hungered to see, a home run that would have raised Stanton’s season total to 60. Instead, Stanton settled for a rocket double as his quest to become the sixth player in Major League history to hit 60 was put on hold.
Stanton has two games remaining in which to reach the milestone.
On Friday, though, his double and an infield hit contributed to a 6-5 Marlins victory over the Braves in which they rallied from a 5-0 deficit.
After Dan Straily was knocked out early by giving up five runs, the Marlins roared back late, scoring two runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh.
Marcell Ozuna drove in three runs, raising his season total to 122, while Stanton drove in his 130th run of the season with a weak infield hit.
▪ Justin Bour came up with the big hit in the seventh, a broken-bat single that scored the tying and go-ahead runs.
Ichiro Suzuki popped out in his attempt to tie John Vander Wal’s record for most pinch-hits in a season with 28. Suzuki’s next hit with tie him with Cap Anson for 21st on the all-time list with 3,081.
Derek Jeter, who takes over as Marlins’ CEO and co-owner next week, has quietly fired four members of the team’s baseball operations department, in the wake of dismissing five prominent team employees last week, according to sources.
And Jeter, once again, asked outgoing Marlins president David Samson to fire the employees for him, according to a source.
Jeter asked Samson to dismiss vice president of player development Marc DelPiano, assistant general manager Mike Berger, vice president/player personnel Jeff McAvoy and vice president/pitching development Jim Benedict. All were informed by Samson in recent days.
DelPiano’s dismissal is the most surprising of the group. Owner Jeffrey Loria lured him away from the Pirates before the 2015 season – where he had most recently served as assistant to the general manager - and DelPiano had worked in the past two years to help establish a new culture within the Marlins’ minor league operations.
Loria and his front office thought so highly of Benedict that they traded a player, pitcher Trevor Williams, to acquire him from the Pirates in November 2015. Williams was 7-9 with a 4.07 ERA for the Pirates this season and might have been the Marlins’ third-best starting pitcher this year if he hadn’t been traded for an executive.
Jeter is expected to retain Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, indefinitely if not permanently. Hill has three years left on his contract.
But it’s unclear if Hill will retain the same level of authority. Jeter is believed to have interest in several others who could assume a high-level position of power inside the organization, including New York Yankees vice president/player development Gary Denbo or former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
Jeter has not informed manager Don Mattingly if he will be retained, but that is widely expected by members of the organization.
Last week, Jeter asked Samson to dismiss longtime special assistants Jack McKeon, Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson and Tony Perez.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (1-3, 4.21) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Lucas Sims (3-5, 4.85), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (14-7, 3.77) vs. Braves RHP Max Fried (1-1, 3.74), 3:10 p.m., Marlins Park.