By CHRISTOPHER STOCK, Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton has one game left to get to 60 home runs.
The All-Star slugger went 1 for 5 with an RBI single in the Miami Marlins’ 10-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. Manager Don Mattingly plans to move him to the leadoff spot for Sunday’s season finale to try to get him more plate appearances.
“I told him I was going to lead him off after the game,” Mattingly said. “First I wanted to make sure he wanted to play, you never know, so he did and then I told him I wanted him to lead off. He was good (with the decision), he was fine.”
Stanton is trying to become the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season since 2001 when Barry Bonds connected for 73 and Sammy Sosa finished with 64. There have been five players in history to hit at least 60 in a season.
“I know he’s going to get it,” Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon said. “I’m pretty sure. I’m pretty confident he’s going to get it. … He’s going to make some noise tomorrow.”
There was a lively crowd of 25,264 cheering on Stanton’s every at-bat.
“It was actually loud out there tonight,” Mattingly said. “That was kind of nice. Just kind of tells you what this building can be if you get it — and it’s still not really full, but it is a loud building. The more games we get like that, the better off we’ll be.”
Gordon had three hits and stole two bases, becoming the first player with at least 200 hits and 60 steals in a season since former Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre in 2003.
“It’s a good feeling,” Gordon said. “There’s not too many true lead-off hitters anymore. Charlie Blackmon is setting the tone, him and (Jose) Altuve, George Springer, those guys are setting a different tone for a lead-off guy so for me to be able to do it with guys who are prototypical lead-off guys and continue to do that 40, 50 years later when the game is going in a different direction means a lot.”
Derek Dietrich homered for Miami and drove in three runs. Miguel Rojas had four hits, and Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3) pitched seven innings of two-run ball.
“Sometimes you can get those runs early, but I’ll take it like today,” Despaigne said. “It’s great to have that support.”
Dansby Swanson and Matt Adams each drove in a run for the Braves, who have lost six straight and 11 of 15. Lucas Sims (3-6) allowed six runs in two innings.
“Wheels have fallen off,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Hopefully we can come out tomorrow and end the season on a winning note.”
ELLIS IN CHARGE
Mattingly has decided to let veteran catcher A.J. Ellis handle the managerial duties in Sunday’s finale.
“He’s already nervous,” Mattingly said. “I told him during the game and he told me I shouldn’t have told him until after the game because he got nervous during the game.”
SHORT START FOR SIMS
Sims allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out one in the shortest of his 10 starts during his first season in the majors.
“I would have liked to end on a better note but it sticks a little bit going into the off season,” Sims said. “But I learn from it and try to be better in 2018.”
Braves: RHP Max Fried (1-1, 3.74 ERA) takes the mound for the finale. Fried has allowed a home run to Stanton in two plate appearances.
Marlins: RHP Jose Urena (14-7, 3.77 ERA) will pitch the finale looking to end his breakout season on a positive after allowing six runs in a loss at Colorado in his last start.