Stanton heads Marlins' gold-star defense

Outfielder denies Cards with pair of diving catches; Hechavarria adds sensational grab of his own

Stanton heads Marlins' gold-star defense

ST. LOUIS -- Giancarlo Stanton is heating up at the plate, and also in the field. The Marlins' right fielder on Saturday flashed some leather with a couple of highlight-worthy diving plays in a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

In the first inning, Stanton took extra bases, and likely two RBIs, away from Matt Adams, and he made a similar-styled play in the fourth to rob Aledmys Diaz.

On a night the Marlins were three-hit by Adam Wainwright, who logged his 10th careeer shutout, their defense stepped up on several occasions. Along with Stanton's two gems, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made an acrobatic catch to snare Yadier Molina's hot liner in St. Louis' four-run third inning.

Stanton's diving catch

"Stanton made a huge play in the first, and kind of made an identical play later on in the game," said Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, who lasted just four innings. "Hechy made a great play, too. You kind of hope those plays will kind of start swinging the momentum back on myself. It just doesn't seem to be the case right now. You just have to go back to the drawing board."

With runners on first and second and two outs in a scoreless game, Adams drove a sinking liner to right field, and Stanton, in full stride, made an all-out, diving grab.

The Cardinals mounted the two-out threat off Koehler, when Stephen Piscotty singled and Randal Grichuk walked on four pitches, bringing up Adams.

According to Statcast™, Adams' liner had an exit velocity of 94 mph, and the ball traveled 319 feet from home plate. Stanton had a route efficiency of 97.4 percent, and his top running speed was 21.3 mph. The ranging 6-foot-6 right fielder covered 65 feet, with a first step of 0.4 seconds.

Hechavarria's stellar stop

Hechavarria's leaping play drew applause from the Busch Stadium crowd, and it prevented more damage for Koehler.

"Right now, I'm in a mode that I will take away a hit to whichever side they hit it," said Hechavarria, a Gold Glove finalist the past two seasons. "I have that mentality right now."

Stanton's sensational grab

An inning after Hechavarria's play, Stanton duplicated his first-inning feat, again covering ground to make his second terrific play, robbing Diaz with one out.

"Big G saves runs, possibly a couple times," manager Don Mattingly said. "Hechy saves runs with his plays at short. It could have very easily been seven or eight. So we kind of stayed in the game, we just weren't able to mount any charge at all."

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.