Stanton bringing patient approach to recent slump
Slugger providing major presence in Marlins' lineup despite batting woes
MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton's two-run double in the first inning of a 6-2 win against the Braves on Wednesday afternoon did more than put the Marlins ahead for good.
It relieved some pressure.
One swing of the bat from the heart of Miami's lineup was enough to sink National League East leader Atlanta and end the Marlins' worst losing streak since May. For Stanton, the hit ended an entirely different streak.
The Paul Maholm changeup he turned into a frozen rope marked the slugger's first RBIs since June 29, and it was only his second extra-base hit in 45 plate appearances.
Stanton is batting .162 (6-for-37) since June 30. Miami is 4-6 during that span.
"Once you're here for a few years, it's usually nothing more than you're thinking too much," Stanton said. "I don't feel like I do too often, but when you have a little thought in your head besides what he's going to throw or focusing on the ball, you're not going to have 100 percent of your mind in that at-bat."
His recent skid is the latest in what has been an up-and-down season for Stanton. He has delivered a number of clutch hits for Miami, including game-winning home runs against the Brewers on June 11 and the D-backs on June 17.
But Stanton has also struggled in RBI situations, batting .172 (5-for-29) with runners in scoring position. His .273 clip with men on base does show promise moving forward as he continues to adjust after missing 37 games due to injury in May and June.
"He's going to hit, and he's going to get big hits for us," manager Mike Redmond said.
Numerous struggles during four seasons in the Majors have prompted Stanton to change his attitude when times get tough. A .227 batting average and only three home runs this April helped Stanton turn the page with his recent batting woes.
"Before, I would just get furious," Stanton said. "You can get mad every once in a while. That's fine. You deserve that having to play every day in how much of a failure sport this is, you can have those days. But it's how you handle them.
"Get [upset] for a few minutes and then leave it alone. You can do whatever you want for those couple of minutes, but then get on to the next one."
Stanton's current slide is not simply a standard slump. Opposing pitchers have not given Stanton much to hit, resulting in an uptick in the slugger's patience.
After walking only four times in his first 18 games back from the disabled list, Stanton has tallied 13 bases on balls since July 1. He said he laid off some good pitches on Wednesday that were not too far outside of the strike zone.
"Today was great, because they threw some good pitches at me, and I took," Stanton said. "That's the difference. You can strike out or get yourself behind and have to hit a pitch that doesn't necessarily get the heart of the plate."
Even when Stanton is not at his best, he boosts the Marlins' lineup. Redmond has emphasized how crucial Stanton's presence is to Miami's success.
The Marlins went 11-26 while Stanton was on the DL and are 15-13 since the slugger has returned.
"He's such a big part of our lineup," Redmond said. "He changes really how a lot of guys get pitched."
"When we got Giancarlo back, it kind of like woke up our lineup in a sense that we got our guy back," catcher Rob Brantly said. "I think everybody kind of feeds off him being there and started getting a lot better. He's a good guy to have on your side."
"To understand the game like that is another part of why you don't get as [upset] when you're not playing as well," Stanton said of how his lineup presence helps his teammates.
Perhaps Stanton's biggest impact is on the batters around him. Ed Lucas and Placido Polanco are hitting a combined .288 (23-for-80) with a .352 on-base percentage in the No. 2 spot protected by Stanton since June 19.
The season numbers for the second spot in the lineup are a batting average of .237 (87-for-366) and a .296 on-base percentage.
"It takes a lot of pressure off me, because I know I don't have to go up and hit homers," Lucas said of batting in front of Stanton. "I'm just trying to get on base any way I can. I try to work the count.
"I know they're probably not going to pitch around me, but maybe I can work a walk or bloop one in somewhere, because it doesn't matter [how I get on base]. All I've got to do is get to first base. If I'm on first base, then I'm in scoring position with that guy behind me."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.