MIAMI -- Time will tell if Giancarlo Stanton, aka "Cruz" during Players Weekend, can reach his personal milestone of 62 home runs this season. What's becoming crystal clear is the Marlins' slugger has a chance to write historical marks in August.Stanton belted home runs in his first two at-bats on
MIAMI -- Time will tell if Giancarlo Stanton, aka "Cruz" during Players Weekend, can reach his personal milestone of 62 home runs this season. What's becoming crystal clear is the Marlins' slugger has a chance to write historical marks in August.
Stanton belted home runs in his first two at-bats on Friday night off Padres lefty Travis Wood, aka "Woody," raising his MLB-leading total to 49. Now with 16 home runs in August, the Miami right fielder is one shy of the National League record of home runs in the month. The Marlins won the game, 8-6.
Stanton finished with two homers, a two-run double, plus a walk, and matched his career high with five RBIs. His 105 runs batted in on the season also match his personal best, previously set in 2014.
"I'm not worried about homers, to be honest," Stanton said. "I just want to hit the ball hard, and be in position to strike when they give me a pitch, because it's going to get less and less. I've got to be ready for that."
Sammy Sosa in 2001 and Willie Mays in 1965 hold the National League record for August. Rudy York in 1937, with the Tigers, holds the MLB record with 18.
"It's been incredible," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He has fueled this run. After the [All-Star] break, he has been a terror."
Right now, Stanton isn't just smashing home runs -- he appears to be trying to knock the cover off them.
In the first inning, the four-time All-Star blistered a two-run home run that left the bat at 118.2 mph and traveled a projected 462 feet into the left-field stands, according to Statcast™.
"Whatever, it put us up," Stanton said of the explosive exit velocity. "I just have to be on time. Catch a strike on time. The rest should take care of itself."
The exit velocity was his hardest hit home run of the season, and it came a day after he smoked a home run at 115.7 mph at Philadelphia. Until Friday, that was Stanton's hardest hit homer of the season.
"It was unbelievable," said Marcell Ozuna, who belted a three-run homer to give the Marlins the lead in the seventh. "That ball got off the bat like 116. I imagined it at that."
When told Stanton's homer actually was 118.2 mph, Ozuna beamed: "That was loud, unbelievable."
Stanton connected on an opposite-field home run off Wood in the third inning, giving him nine multi-home run games this year and 27 in his career. He then delivered a two-run double in the fourth inning, boosting his season RBI total to 105, matching the career high he set in 2014.
The big slugger made a highlight play in the outfield, as well. In the top of the second, Padres outfielder Jabari Blash smoked a sinking line drive out to right. Stanton charged and made a diving catch, tumbling over while squeezing the ball in the palm of his glove. He had to cover a distance of 55 feet in just 3.7 seconds, giving the play a catch probability of 44 percent, according to Statcast™. That made it Stanton's sixth catch this season that rated as 4 stars (26-50 percent catch probability).
Stanton is on the brink of becoming the first player since Chris Davis of the Orioles to reach 50 home runs. Davis had 53 in 2013. The last National League player to get to 50 was Prince Fielder of the Brewers in 2007.
The Marlins' single-game record for home runs is three, shared by Mike Lowell (April 21, 2004, at Philadelphia) and Cody Ross on (Sept. 11, 2006, vs. the Mets).
On the brink of reaching 50 homers, Stanton noted that he expects to be pitched to more carefully down the stretch.
"They're going to try everything now," Stanton said. "The Mets [last weekend] tried to stay far away and give me something periodically, and some teams are going to challenge. That's the point, the little cat-and-mouse, the chess game. Sometimes, when you'd think I'm not going to get pitched to, they're going to pitch to me, and vice versa. It depends how the game is going."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.