Stanton's HR is latest sign he's finding groove

After rough patch, Miami slugger seeing ball better

Stanton's HR is latest sign he's finding groove

MIAMI -- The explosive swing and familiar trot were back at Marlins Park. Giancarlo Stanton blasted a home run on Tuesday, and the no-doubt liner was another reminder that he is breaking out of his slide.

Stanton's 12th homer of the season was impressive to watch, but it wasn't enough to rally his club, as the Rays evened the Citrus Series at a game apiece with a 4-3 win.

Stanton is awakening from one of the worst stretches in his career. He was 0-for-19 with 16 strikeouts (all swinging) before he hit a single to center field off Nationals ace Max Scherzer on Sunday.

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Stanton's sixth-inning shot off lefty Enny Romero on Tuesday was a reminder of how impactful he can be on any given swing. Statcast™ projected the home run at 407 feet, with an exit velocity of 109 mph. 

"I think it's been three or four days now where he's starting to see the ball better," manager Don Mattingly said. "That's really what you want."

Stanton had gone 27 at-bats between home runs. He previously connected on May 15 in a 5-1 victory over Washington.

Facing a left-handed pitcher, Stanton wasn't wearing the face guard he has sported since being hit in the face by a pitch in September 2014. He routinely doesn't use the shield against lefties. But last weekend, beginning with one at-bat on Friday against the Nationals, Stanton went without the mask against a right-hander. Since then, he's shed the shield against righties a couple of other times.

Teams regularly throw hard up and in on Stanton. His decision whether to wear the face guard will be a matter of preference with a particular at-bat or pitcher. 

As for Stanton's slump, the slugger understands it is part of the game. He has done his best to block out distractions in order to stay focused on getting back into a good rhythm.

"I've understood that," Stanton said. "It seems a lot of other people haven't understood that. I have. I haven't panicked. I've been angry, but who wouldn't? I think I'll be all right."

Along with his homer, Stanton reached on a two-base error on a high popup to short right field in the fourth inning. Second baseman Steve Pearce was charged with the error after dropping the ball while bumping into right fielder Steven Souza Jr.

"I've been feeling better since the Washington series," Stanton said. "When you're that far out of whack, you have to put together a few games at a time. First, you feel better. Then you start swinging at better pitches. Then you catch up to the speed of the game, not just the miles per hour of the game."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.