MIAMI -- History was put on hold in Giancarlo Stanton's quest to reach 60 home runs on Sunday. Instead, it was a three-run homer by pinch-hitter Adonis Garcia and Kurt Suzuki's two-run home run that helped propel the Braves to an 8-5 victory over the Marlins in the season finale
MIAMI -- History was put on hold in Giancarlo Stanton's quest to reach 60 home runs on Sunday. Instead, it was a three-run homer by pinch-hitter Adonis Garcia and Kurt Suzuki's two-run home run that helped propel the Braves to an 8-5 victory over the Marlins in the season finale at Marlins Park.
The main spotlight was on Stanton, who started in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career to guarantee as many at-bats as possible to assist his chances to hit his 60th home run. But Stanton ended up going 2-for-5 with an RBI single. His single in the third inning was clocked at 122.2 mph, which is the hardest base hit recorded since Statcast™ launched in 2015.
• No 60, but Stanton HR, RBI king of 2017
"I think [Stanton] will get 60 one day," Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich said. "It didn't happen for him today. It's still an unbelievable year."
Atlanta avoided a four-game sweep and snapped a six-game losing streak by rallying to victory in the season finale, which also marked the final game of Jeffrey Loria's ownership in Miami. The group, headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, is expected to officially be announced early next week.
Dansby Swanson hit a go-ahead RBI single off Junichi Tazawa with two outs in the seventh inning, and Garcia blasted a three-run homer off lefty Justin Nicolino.
"It's good because we've kind of been struggling," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It was a good, solid ballgame. A lot of really good things happened."
Stanton had one final chance in the ninth inning, facing closer Arodys Vizcaino. The slugger was greeted to a standing ovation and chants of "MVP!" But he struck out on four pitches, swinging through an 86.4-mph slider. On his way back to the dugout, the fans cheered loudly, and Stanton raised his right fist and put it over his heart in his curtain call.
"That was great," Stanton said. "It sums up my year, and appreciation of me to the fans and the fans for me. It closes the book on 2017."
The Marlins' All-Star right fielder did not become the sixth player in MLB history to have at least 60 home runs, but he enhanced his National League MVP chances by finishing with the Major League lead in home runs (59) and RBIs (132).
"That's huge," Stanton said. "That's something special for me, that I was able to go out there and compete all season and let my numbers show for it."
Marlins All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna belted a solo home run in the seventh inning, his 37th of the season. Ozuna finished with 123 RBIs. Stanton and Ozuna are the first teammates to finish among the Major League's top three RBI leaders since 2005, when David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did so with the Red Sox.
"You're seeing all these good offensive years, but we're still not where we need to be," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after his club finished 77-85. "So we see a lot of individual accomplishments. I think a little disappointing for us, the guys and myself. We've kind of gotten close. [Not competing for a postseason spot in] the last game of the season ... but we're still in contention and not really able to break through that. That's still disappointing."
Braves rookie southpaw Max Fried breezed through the first four innings and then was undone by a Swanson error that fueled Miami's four-run fifth. Displaying an impressive curveball, Fried recorded seven strikeouts, including five straight, over 4 1/3 innings in his fourth career start.
"I was a little unfortunate in the fifth," Fried said. "Some ground balls just happened to find holes. I can't really control that. But I'm really happy with how I've been throwing the ball. Coming into this, I just made sure I would have as much fun as possible and just go out there and give it my all. I feel like I accomplished that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Going with Garcia: Each team played matchups, and it was the decision to pinch-hit Garcia that proved beneficial to the Braves with two outs in the seventh inning. The Braves had taken a 5-4 lead on Swanson's two-out RBI single. A.J. Ellis, the Marlins' honorary player-manager for the day, removed Tazawa and called on lefty Nicolino to face Jace Peterson. But the Braves countered with Garcia, and the result was a three-run homer that broke open a four-run Atlanta lead.
"To the Braves' credit, they put some good swings on it," Ellis said. "They hit two-run and three-run homers. Those are the ones that kill you. Hats off to them."
Garcia entered the game having gone 2-for-18 since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him for three months. He has entered the past two seasons as Atlanta's starting third baseman, but there is no guarantee he will be brought back next season.
"After he came back [from the DL], he just didn't have enough time to get ready," Snitker said. "He just missed so much time. We all know he can hit. It was big in this game."
Striking first: The Braves struck for three runs off Jose Urena in the third inning, with Suzuki's two-run homer extending his career-high total to 19. The big inning featured Atlanta picking up a double from Ozzie Albies, Suzuki's homer and Freddie Freeman's one-out triple. Freeman scored on Nick Markakis' groundout to short, and Atlanta enjoyed an early advantage.
"That's what we envision of him, to be a potential eighth-inning guy. He's not a matchup guy. His stuff is too good." -- Snitker, on rookie left-hander A.J. Minter, who notched four strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings and exited his first Major League season having struck out 17 of the final 31 batters he faced
"That was emotional. We did that because we don't know what's going to happen next year. We thanked God for letting us all play together. It may be the last time we play together, but at the same time, we're always going to be together." -- Ozuna, on embracing Stanton and Yelich in the outfield late in the game, with their futures with the Marlins uncertain
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Stanton's Statcast-record single in the third extended a trend for the slugger, who is known for his jaw-dropping exit velocities and tape-measure shots. Stanton's hardest home run this season came off Braves reliever Rex Brothers on Thursday, a 118.7-mph shot that traveled an estimated 467 feet. His hardest double was also hit at 118.7 mph, a frozen rope off the Rays' Erasmo Ramirez on May 2. He didn't hit any triples.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.