Marlins fans hadn’t seen a Giancarlo Stanton home run at home in nearly seven months.
They were treated to a pair on Wednesday night.
But it still wasn’t enough as the Marlins bullpen couldn’t protect the lead late and the Braves prevailed 5-4 to split the brief two-game series.
"It shows what he does to a game," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He changes games quickly. But tonight we didn’t have a whole lot of chances after that to score runs."
Unfortunately for the Marlins, Stanton’s two home runs were matched by Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte, who hit his second of the game in the eighth inning off reliever Junichi Tazawa to tie the game at 4.
Inciarte had only 13 career home runs in three-plus seasons in the majors before Wednesday’s game.
"I think Taz was trying to go away to Inciarte, but he pulled it across the plate," Mattingly said. "He ends up getting in a spot we didn’t want to be in. I like the pitch selection, but we didn’t execute."
Tyler Flowers then delivered the go-ahead run in the ninth on a two-out single to center field off A.J. Ramos that scored Brandon Phillips. This came moments after Phillips, who reached on a walk with one out, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
"I didn't throw it where I wanted to, but at the same time I've thrown a lot of pitches in the same spot that doesn't get hit," Ramos said. "Maybe I was trying to keep Phillips too close to the bag. Maybe I was worrying about him too much. I was changing my looks, changing my times to the plate. The real issue was getting Flowers. I left a ball up, and he hit it."
Stanton’s home runs were his first two of the young season, and marked the 19th multi-homer game of his career. His previous was July 6th last season at Citi Field in New York, and his prior one at Marlins Park came against the Braves on May 15, 2015.
The difference in the two homers in terms of distance was minimal as the first traveled 397 feet and the second 396.
But the two couldn’t have looked more different.
Stanton’s first homer tied the game at 2 in the bottom of the third and bounced off the top of the wall in left field and just out of Inciarte’s reach reaching a height of 144 feet according to MLB’s Statcast tracking system.
Stanton sent the second speeding about 116 mph and only as high as 48 feet off the ground according to Statcast. Stanton’s missile-like blast landed in the swimming pool of the Clevelander bar in left field in the fifth inning and prompted a fan to dive in after it. Stanton said after the game he signed the souvenir for him.
"It was good that we got some homers to put us up," Stanton said. "Giving us a chance to win is more to me than the actual homer, because I've been hitting balls hard. It'd be different if I wasn't hitting balls hard."
The game was delayed for 27 minutes in the top of the fourth inning due to a partial outage of the stadium lights caused by a direct hit lightning strike to one of the power substations during a thunderstorm outside Marlins Park.
Tom Koehler pitched six innings, gave up three runs on five hits, walked two, struck out one and gave up home runs to Inciarte and Freddie Freeman, who gave the Braves a 3-2 lead in the fourth right after Stanton’s equalizer.
Koehler has given up all four of the runs he’s allowed in his first two starts of the season on three home runs.
"I have to do a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark," Koehler said. "I have to force them to string a couple hits here and there."
Shortstop J.T. Riddle started for the second consecutive game and picked up his first major league hit on a check swing infield single up the third base line in the second inning. Riddle said his mother, stepfather and sister were in attendance for both games.
"It was pretty crazy – check swing, I don’t even know," Riddle said. "I think the ball might have hit the dirt. It started foul and came back. It was one to remember. It’s one I will never forget."