Miami Marlins

Giancarlo Stanton stays hot following Home Run Derby

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) hits a home run during their game against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on July 10, 2016.
Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (27) hits a home run during their game against the Cincinnati Reds at Marlins Park on July 10, 2016. lriely@miamiherald.com

Giancarlo Stanton was confident his participation in the Home Run Derby would not have any detrimental effects. Stanton went to San Diego with a plan.

His strategy, despite trying to hit as many homers as he could, was to make sure he stuck to his natural mechanics at the plate and not try too hard to elevate the baseball.

The result was a record 61 homers for him and the Marlins’ first Home Run Derby championship.

“I think if you’re trying to hit long, high and far home runs, with a dip, it will mess up your swing, for sure,” Stanton said.

“My approach with this, especially with the format, is that if I’m going to make an out, make sure it’s a ground ball or a low line drive, which were the majority of them. If you’re going straight up and popping things up, then I agree it does.”

The majority of Stanton’s home run swings — his homers went as far as 497 feet — looked effortless.

Stanton, who hit two doubles on Sunday, said regardless of the outcome he planned to swing in the batting cage after the competition to make sure he had the mechanics of his swing right where he wanted.

Despite not being an All-Star, Stanton made it clear he wanted to compete this year after injuries kept him out of two previous competitions.

Stanton entered the Derby having hit five home runs over his final five games before the All-Star break.

GLOVE WORK

Stanton made some highlight-worthy plays Saturday that had nothing to do with his powerful swing. He made two nearly identical spectacular diving catches in right field during the first four innings of Saturday’s loss to the Cardinals.

In the first inning, Stanton sprinted, dove and snared what would have likely been a two-run hit by Matt Adams. In the fourth, he made a very similar play to rob Aledmys Diaz of an extra-base hit.

Those plays along with Adeiny Hechavarria’s diving grab at shortstop during the Cardinals’ four-run third inning kept the Marlins from falling behind further.

“It could have very easily been seven or eight [runs],” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “So we kind of stayed in the game; we just weren’t able to mount any charge at all.”

▪ Tom Koehler is trying to pinpoint the cause of his recent string of poor performances. After Saturday night’s four-run third inning during another brief, four-inning start, Koehler now has a 7.88 ERA over his past four starts (16 innings pitched). Koehler has allowed 36 hits over his past five starts (22 innings) and gave up four runs in an inning for the third time in that span.

"Right now, everything that's getting hit is falling in," Koehler said. "Right now, when I execute a pitch, it seems like it’s getting hit. When I don't, it seems like it’s really getting hit. I'm throwing enough strikes, it's not like I'm falling behind hitters. I'm not putting them away, and not executing the pitches that I need to later in the at-bats."

Koehler (6-8, 4.68 ERA) won three decisions in a row from June 9-19 with a 2.00 ERA in that span, prior to his struggles.

The Marlins, who are searching for a fifth starter for their rotation, have gone 33-20 in the combined starts made by Jose Fernandez, Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen. They are 15-22 in starts made by anyone else, including 7-11 in Koehler’s starts.

COMING UP

▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (11-4, 2.52 ERA) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (5-8, 4.69), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.

▪ Tuesday: Marlins TBA at Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.32), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.

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