Giancarlo Stanton’s productive and healthy 2017 season is now his best in terms of home run power.
Stanton set a new career-high for home runs in a single-season with a three-run blast in the fifth inning Tuesday night that put the Marlins ahead for good in a 7-3 win over the host Nationals.
Stanton’s home run off Nationals’ starter A.J. Cole traveled 438 feet to center field and put the Marlins ahead for good.
The Marlins (53-58) had lost in the previous three games in which Stanton had homered during that span. But that changed Tuesday thanks to three RBI from Derek Dietrich, a double by Dee Gordon and a second consecutive quality start against the Nationals by Vance Worley.
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Stanton’s 38 homers lead the majors, and he now stands four away from matching Gary Sheffield for the Marlins’ single-season franchise record he set in 1996.
“I still got time to go,” Stanton said. “For me, it’s really cool to have that and have so much time left to advance on it.”
Stanton also hit his league-leading 12th home run since the All-Star break and his fifth in the past five games.
Stanton had previously hit 37 home runs in a season in 2012 and 2014.
But this year, a healthier Stanton with a consistent approach at the plate is on pace to hit 55.
“[It’s] just being a better baseball player and not being an athlete getting away with performance,” Stanton said. “Understanding baseball and the grind of it and how when I don’t feel my best for a couple of days how to get through that.”
Dietrich’s solo homer in the fourth came after Cole had held the Marlins without a hit for the first 3 2/3 innings. He later doubled to score two more in the seventh and extend the Marlins’ lead to 7-1.
“I’m working diligently with [hitting coach] Mike Pagliarulo and Don [Mattingly] and feeling much better at the plate,” Dietrich said. “It’s clicked nicely for me the last few weeks and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Dietrich has gone 15 for 44 with three home runs and 14 RBI over his past 12 games.
“This is the best I’ve seen him probably in two years here, where he’s actually staying with something over five, six, seven days and you’re starting to see it,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s letting his swing come out, and he’s got a nice swing.”
Worley, who went 0-2 with a 7.52 ERA in five previous sporadic starts this season, allowed one run on six hits over six innings Tuesday.
In two starts over the past six days against the team that cut him toward the end of Spring Training in March, Worley has thrown 13 innings, allowing that single run on Tuesday, eight hits with five strikeouts and three walks on 88 pitches.
Worley made a third consecutive start in the Marlins’ rotation – something he hadn’t done with any club in over two seasons.
“It’s been a wild ride from spring training to the minor leagues and then coming back up and trying to figure out the major league ball again,” Worley said. “It’s been small adjustments. I got moved to the bullpen and had some time to work on some things and mentally figure some things out and finally got something to click out there.”