Miami Marlins

Marlins back at .500 after sweeping the Phillies

From left, Miami Marlins' Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton celebrate in the outfield after a victory against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 12-8.
From left, Miami Marlins' Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton celebrate in the outfield after a victory against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Philadelphia. The Marlins won 12-8. AP

Giancarlo Stanton doubled a run home in the fifth inning and later smashed his major-league-leading 46th home run in the seventh of Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but he had plenty of help in carrying the Marlins to a 12-8 victory.

The Marlins are now back at .500 after defeating the Phillies 7-4 in game two. After winning nine out of their past 11 games, Miami improves to 62-62 .

Marcell Ozuna added a two-run shot of his own two batters later, but it was Ichiro Suzuki’s second career pinch hit home run earlier in the inning that put the Marlins on top. The future Hall of Famer crushed a 3-1 pitch to center field to score Tomas Telis and Miguel Rojas.

It was a good sign for a Marlins team that hopes to make up ground in the National League wild-card race as the season begins winding down. Another good sign was the performance of starter Dan Straily (8-8), who had his third double-digit strikeout game of the season.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 45th homer as the Marlins took the series from the Mets.

Although Straily did give up two home runs, it was the only two hits he gave up, leaving the scored tied after six. For a pitcher who came into the game with an 0-5 record and an ERA above five since the All-Star break, manager Don Mattingly said about the win, “to get that behind him is a good thing.”

As incredible as Stanton’s season has been, he set a club record for 13 homers in one month, the best takeaway from Tuesday’s first game is that he did not have to do all the heavy lifting.

Five Marlins besides the slugger had RBI, and J.T. Realmuto piled on the runs in the ninth with a three-run shot of his own. If this team hopes to catch up to the likes of Colorado and Arizona in the wild-card race, it will need more than just Stanton to provide the offense.

Teams like the Phillies, who own the worst record in the majors, are the type of teams that the Marlins need to avoid stumbling against. Of the Marlins’ remaining 38 games, 24 are against teams with losing records. Including the second game of the doubleheader, 10 of those 24 games are against the Phillies, leaving no time to wait for the team to take advantage of this weaker schedule.

The lone dark spot on an otherwise bright win was the bullpen, which gave up five runs over the last three innings. Although the team didn’t have to go to the back end of the bullpen, it is never a good game for the bullpen to give up three home runs when protecting any lead. A consistently successful bullpen will be key for the Marlins if they hope to reach the postseason.

“Our focus is win the game no matter what,” Straily said. “No matter what it takes or what it looks like just win the game.”

Moving one game under .500 (61-62) for the first time since April 30, this philosophy will be key for this club to keep their playoff hopes alive.

One game at time, and as Straily said: “We’ll see where it’s at when we’re all said and done.”

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

▪ Ichiro tied a Marlins single-season record for most pinch hits in a season with 21.

▪ Stanton is the first player this decade to have 46 home runs in a season. The last players to do it were Albert Pujols (47) and Prince Fielder (46) in 2009

▪ With three home runs in the seventh inning, it was the 13th time in club history the Marlins hit three or more in one inning.

▪ Marlins right-hander Javy Guerra was designated for assignment and left-hander Jarlin Garcia was recalled from a rehab assignment. … Right-hander Severino Gonzalez was added as the 26th man.

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