Stanton heating up, but not 'at ease' yet

Slugger hits 14th HR, delivers clutch single in win over Cubs

Stanton heating up, but not 'at ease' yet

MIAMI -- After delivering the game-winning single in the eighth inning on Thursday night, Giancarlo Stanton had a sense of relief. But make no mistake about it, the three-time All-Star is not satisfied.

It's going to take much more than a couple of big hits for Stanton to get past what he's gone through all year. For one night, though, the 26-year-old is enjoying his contributions in Miami's 4-2 win over the Cubs at Marlins Park.

"I'm not going to be at ease for a long time," Stanton said. "I'm going to keep pushing forward. There is no ease until about October, to be honest, for this one."

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Stanton doesn't need to be reminded about how much he's struggled. Every time he steps to the plate, if he looks at the scoreboard, he sees his numbers. Entering the night he was batting .211 with 13 home runs and 32 RBIs.

After going 2-for-4 in the first of four against the Cubs, Stanton's now at .216 with 14 homers and 34 RBIs.

"Keep pushing forward," Stanton said. "But I've got a lot to do. This feels great to help us get the win, but personally, I've got more to do."

So much is expected from Stanton, one of the faces of the Marlins and Major League Baseball. He's among the most feared power threats in the game, but he hasn't been able to sustain any consistency.

Stanton's solo home run

For the year, Stanton's slash line is .216/.314/.441 with 87 strikeouts in 222 at-bats.

On Thursday, he was able to come up big, homering off Jon Lester in the fourth inning, which tied the game at 1. And in the eighth inning of a 2-2 game, Stanton faced hard-throwing Pedro Strop.

With Christian Yelich on second and two outs, Strop was being careful with Stanton. He fell behind 3-0 and could have issued a walk to get to J.T. Realmuto. But the count ran full, and Stanton did damage with his opposite-field single.

"You've got to be ready," Stanton said. "There is an open base now that Yelly went to second. But you've got to be ready. He still throws hard. He can try to sneak one by."

Stanton on the Marlins' 4-2 win

Coming through in the clutch earned Stanton a shaving cream-filled towel to the face during his postgame TV interview.

The way manager Don Mattingly sees it, Stanton should wipe the slate clean, and act like his season is starting now.

"I don't think we can worry about the past," Mattingly said. "I think that's part of the problem. ... At some point you've just got to say, 'Ok, my season starts today. What am I going to do here from here on forward, because you're not going to get anything back?' It's just a waste of energy, and time and effort, mentally.

Mattingly on the 4-2 victory

"At some point in your mind, you've got to say, 'I'm starting over. I'm starting right here. This is not the way I've wanted to start this.' At some point, you start it. Tonight is a pretty good start."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com 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.