MIAMI -- Pitchers are trying to change things up against Giancarlo Stanton, and it's still not working. The four-time All-Star blasted a three-run homer on Saturday night that lifted the Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the Rockies, who are now tied with the D-backs for the first National League Wild Card spot.
Stanton's Major League-leading 41st homer moves him within one of the Marlins' single-season franchise record set by Gary Sheffield in 1996. The no-doubter came in the fourth inning off right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who threw an 86.2-mph changeup that Stanton didn't miss.
"Fuego. Fuego. Hot," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Stanton. "It just seems like every day, you almost count on him hitting one. I think pitchers are trying to make pitches. When you're trying to make pitches, sometimes you end up holding onto it too long. You don't want to do 'this', and you don't want to do 'that.' You end up leaving something to hit, and he's not missing anything."
Stanton is on a head-spinning home run barrage, connecting on 20 homers in his last 32 games, and second in as many nights. Statcast™ projected Stanton's laser at 463 feet, with an exit velocity of 114 mph. It took just five seconds for the ball to reach its final destination, which was in the Budweiser Bar section on the concourse. A bartender retrieved the ball and gave it to a fan.
"I mean, obviously, it's a pretty special streak," Nolan Arenado said. "Twenty homers in 32 games is unbelievable. I've never heard of anything like that. He's got 20 homers in 32 games. I've got 26 homers in 4 1/2 months."
Stanton has had some hot stretches, but he calls this current one the best of his eight-year career.
"Yeah, for sure," Stanton said. "It's just being consistent daily. I've had stretches where it's been similar to this, but very compact -- a week and a half or so, two weeks. To keep it going, all parks, home and away, all pitches, etc. Just got to keep it going."
Justin Nicolino allowed two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings in his return to the Majors to pick up his first win of the season.
The Rockies have struggled to get the big hit of late. They finished the game 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and are 3-for-27 in those situations over their first four games of their road trip.
"We've definitely had our chances," said Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond, who managed Saturday while Bud Black was feeling ill. "We've been really good throughout the year at two-out hits and big hits, and right now they're not coming. So we've got to stick with it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED No place to put him: With two outs and runners on first and second in the fourth inning, the Rockies didn't have an open base to put Stanton. So Hoffman challenged him and tried to get the slugger with a changeup. Stanton crushed it for a three-run homer that gave Miami a 4-1 edge. Along with being Stanton's 41th of the season, and eighth in nine games, it marked the 19th homer by Stanton that put his team ahead, extending his franchise record. Sheffield had 17 in 1996.
"He's playing up there with the best of them right now," Hoffman said. "You'd almost rather just walk him there and just take your medicine or just stay away from him and hope he gets himself out. But leaving him a hanging changeup is just not going to get it done. It's the one hitter you can't do that too, and he beat us."
"If I get lift on the ball, it's going to go," Stanton said. "Sometimes they're hard grounders. Sometimes they're a lot of fly balls. It's just one of those grooves."
Arenado tossed in seventh: The Rockies' frustration boiled over in the seventh inning as All-Star third baseman Arenado got thrown out by first-base umpire Pat Hoberg for disputing a check swing that was ruled strike three. Facing Drew Steckenrider with the count at 2-2, Arenado attempted to hold back on an elevated 93.5-mph fastball. On the appeal, Hoberg called strike three.
Arenado tossed his bat, drawing the ejection. He then trotted to first base to exchange a few words with Hoberg, as Redmond joined the conversation. Valaika took over at third base. Arenado, who leads the Majors with 100 RBIs, would've come to the plate with two outs in the ninth in a one-run ballgame.
"I thought I didn't go, but I was mostly mad at myself," Arenado said. "But I can see why he threw me out. I said some words I probably shouldn't have said toward him, so I can see why I got thrown out. But I was more upset with my at-bats today, and it kind of carried over into that last one, because I had another bad one." More >
"When you pitch to contact, you learn to live with that sometimes, but it doesn't make it any easier. You've just got to move on, and knowing at any point, I'm one pitch away from ending this thing." -- Ziegler, on working around a two-out infield single by Valaika in the ninth to record his fourth save
"He's a great player. He really is. It just seems like now compared to the years past there's not a lot of ways to get him out. I feel like in the past you could throw inside and break his bat or jam or something. But now, he's getting to everything. He looks really good. I mean, the best I've ever seen him. I'm happy for him. He's a good dude. I wish he wasn't doing it against us." -- Arenado, on Stanton's home run production
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Stanton became the first player to reach 100 home runs at Marlins Park, which opened in 2012. The slugger also has 249 career homers, a Marlins record.
The Rockies called up their No. 3 prospect Ryan McMahon on Friday, and he made his big league debut in a big spot during Saturday's game. Pinch-hitting with two on and his team down 4-3 in the eighth, McMahon was tasked with facing the hard-throwing Brian Ellington. He flew out to center on a 1-1 89-mph changeup to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies:German Marquez (9-4, 3.88 ERA) toes the rubber for Colorado in the series finale at 11:10 p.m. MT on Sunday at Marlins Park. He hasn't lost since June 26, and he's 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA over his last six starts.
Marlins:Vance Worley (2-2, 4.82), coming off two straight wins against the Nationals, takes the ball for Miami at 1:10 p.m. ET in the series finale. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his career against Colorado.