By his standards, it was hardly one of Giancarlo Stanton’s longest home runs.
Yet, his 351-foot solo shot to right field off Arizona’s Patrick Corben in the fifth inning on Friday night at Marlins Park had significance.
It not only gave the Marlins a 6-5 lead in an eventual 7-5 victory over the Diamondbacks, one of the majors’ best teams, it also made the 27-year-old slugger the franchise’s all-time RBI leader.
After crossing the plate, Stanton had his 579th career RBI, passing Mike Lowell (578) for the most in team history.
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“I’m one of 30 [franchise leaders] — so that’s pretty cool,” said Stanton, who also leads the Marlins in career homers (223), strikeouts (1,031), extra-base hits (415) and wins above replacement (28.7).
“These are things, accomplishments, where you look back down the road and see how cool it was in the moment, how it influenced us [in the game]. It did in a big way.”
Thanks to some solid bullpen work, the Marlins (22-31) made Stanton’s piece of history stand up in a win.
Unlike Thursday when they couldn’t protect a 2-0 lead against Arizona, five Marlins relievers combined to retire the final 14 Diamondbacks hitters in order to end the game after Arizona had rallied to tie the score at 5 off starter Jose Urena.
Closer A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth and picked up his seventh save of the season, converting his 15th consecutive save opportunity dating to last Sept. 9.
But the real hero for the Marlins was the first reliever of the night.
Right-hander Dustin McGowan entered with runners on the corners and the score tied at 5 with one out in the fifth and struck out Yasmany Tomas before getting Brandon Drury to ground out to third to end the threat. Then he retired the Diamondbacks (34-23) in order in the sixth.
“You can’t talk about this game without talking about Mac’s out,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He stopped them from taking the lead there. That was just huge, and the rest of the guys out there did a nice job.”
Urena was staked to a 4-0 lead in the first on a pair of two-run homers by Christian Yelich and Justin Bour.
Yelich’s home run off Corbin landed in the upper deck in right field and traveled 397 feet, accoridng to MLB’s Statcast.
Yelich thought Bour’s was even more impressive because the left-handed hitter drove the ball the other way to left-center field. Bour’s homer traveled 418 feet.
“I think maybe one or two lefties have ever done that I think here,” Yelich said. “This place is huge. I’ve never been able to do that here. And for him to be able to do that on a line drive is really killing it.”
But Urena squandered the lead.
He gave up a two-run bomb to Paul Goldschmidt in the third inning and then three runs in the fifth, including a solo blast by Chris Iannetta and then back-to-back RBI singles by Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb.
But the Marlins didn’t allow a run after that and tacked on an important insurance run in the seventh on a J.T. Realmuto RBI single following Stanton’s home run.
“Even with the game [Thursday night], you still like your guys,” Mattingly said of his bullpen. “They’re going to have days where they give up a run or two. That’s going to happen. The thing that changes about this game is we got up early and then we tacked on one, tacked on one. It’s hard to play when you’ve always got to hold a one-run lead for the whole game. That kind of combination, it works better when your offense keeps tacking on and it gives your bullpen a chance to give up a run or two but still win the game.”
▪ In his first at-bat, Realmuto fouled off a pitch that struck the fish tank behind home plate and created a small crack in the shatter-proof glass. Water began spilling out shortly after.
“I looked back and there was glass all over the dirt and I was just waiting for the thing to explode and fish start flying out,” Realmuto said. “Luckily, that didn’t happen. They were just going to keep playing through it though. I said, ‘You might want to get that glass off the dirt back there.’ It was pretty crazy.”
▪ The first 7,500 fans at Marlins Park on Saturday will get a Stanton bobblehead celebrating his Home Run Derby championship at last year’s All-Star Game. The bobblehead doesn’t look exactly like the three-time All-Star.
“It’s close enough,” Stanton said with a grin. “I think my ears could be a little smaller. They were making fun of me a little bit about it. I like it. I think it’s pretty cool.”