Two pitches before the slam, Franco lost his helmet fouling off a 1-2 curveball. He stepped out of the batter's box, put the helmet back onto his head and told himself to relax. He took a ball to even the count, then took a beautiful swing at a 2-2 fastball from Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, smashing a grand slam a projected 419 feet to left-center field, according to Statcast™. The ball left his bat at 107.1 mph.
"That was a mistake I made there," Chen said through his interpreter. "Because of that mistake, I couldn't minimize the damage."
It was Franco's second grand slam of the season. Before this season, he had hit 2-for-19 with one home run and 11 RBIs with the bases loaded. He is 3-for-5 with two homers and 11 RBIs with the bases loaded this year.
Franco seems to be heating up after a slow start, which involved some bad luck. His .155 BABIP still ranks 184th out of 188 qualified hitters, but he is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with one double, two home runs, 10 RBIs and a 1.109 OPS in his last five games.
"Today I felt really good," Franco said.
It started in the second inning when he hit a 3-1 fastball to center field. Statcast™ measured the single at 105.5 mph.
"That's what I've been working on," Franco said. "In batting practice, I just try to hit the middle to the [opposite field]. I know that's the side of the plate they want to pitch me. That's the adjustment I have to make."
Franco also hit a 106.7 mph single to center in the fifth. He lined out in his last at-bat at 95 mph.
Those four balls in play averaged 103.6 mph. That is some seriously hard contact, and it comes with being more in control at the plate. Phillies hitting coach Matt Stairs spoke with Franco in Spring Training about swinging so hard that he loses his helmet.
"He told me you don't have to swing the bat really hard because you have so much power," Franco said. "Just try to relax, calm down and see the ball and put good contact on it. That's what I've been working on and that's what I'm doing right now."
Lately, it has translated into results.
"It's a long season and it doesn't happen overnight," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.