MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton put an end to his home run drought on Monday night at Marlins Park, and the slugger did so in a big way.
Stanton blasted a solo home run off A.J. Cole with one out in the second inning, giving the Marlins early momentum on a night they went on to defeat the Nationals, 4-3. According to Statcast™, the no-doubt laser to left-center projected to travel 448 feet from home plate, with an exit velocity of 115 mph. The ball traveled beyond the Budweiser Bar area on the promenade level, where a fan caught it on the fly. It came on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, and it was off an 84-mph slider.
The home run was the 26th of the season for Stanton and his first since Aug. 13 against the White Sox. In the ninth inning of that game, the three-time All-Star suffered a Grade 3 left groin strain, and he was on the disabled list from Aug. 14 to Sept. 6.
At the time of his injury, it was feared Stanton would miss the rest of the season, but he returned in three weeks, initially in a pinch-hit role. On Monday, he made his second start since coming back in right field.
Because he still is being eased back into action, Stanton was replaced by pinch-runner Yefri Perez in the sixth inning after he drew a walk. Ichiro Suzuki took over in right field and ended up driving in the decisive run with a fielder's choice grounder to cap a two-run sixth.
"He ends up walking, and that run ends up scoring also," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Again, it's not really the way you draw it up as far as this time of the year. But we're lucky to have a number of players and use a lot of guys, so we can get away with it."
Even though getting Stanton in the lineup gives the club a major power threat, Mattingly faces a difficult decision, because the slugger has limited mobility on the bases and in the field. Either way, Ichiro is expected to replace him in the later innings.
"You're weighing keeping him on the field, not injury-wise. Medical has cleared him to be able to play," Mattingly said. "But can he defend as well as Ichiro? Is he going to cost us runs out there on defense? And if he gets on, can he score on a base hit? Does that cost us a run?
"So you weigh that with, he gets an extra two at-bats. Instead of getting one at-bat a night, he ends up getting three or four. That's kind of what you weigh with the positives and the negatives."
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.