MIAMI (AP) Giancarlo Stanton paused in his pursuit of a hallowed home run number, acknowledged he’s shooting for 61 and said he finds baseball’s statistical history both alluring and tainted.
Stanton’s six-game homer streak ended Wednesday, but he singled, stole a base and scored in a four-run first inning to help the Miami Marlins beat the San Francisco Giants 8-1.
While Stanton didn’t come close to hitting his 45th homer of the year, he’s on pace to finish with 61 and said that number is a goal.
”When you grow up watching all the old films of Babe Ruth and (Mickey) Mantle and those guys, 61 has always been that printed number,” Stanton said.
Ruth hit a record 60 homers in 1927, and Stanton said he gives that achievement an asterisk because the sport wasn’t integrated then. Mantle’s teammate Roger Maris broke the record with 61 in 1961.
Barry Bonds set the current record of 73 in 2001 during the steroids era, and Stanton said he also considers that total tainted.
”I do, but at the same time it doesn’t matter,” he said. ”The record is the record.”
Lately Stanton has been on a pace that would allow him to challenge Bonds. Facing three Giants pitchers, he failed to homer for only the third time in the past 13 games, and fell two games short of tying the major league record for the longest home run streak at eight games.
That record is shared by Dale Long (1956), Ken Griffey Jr. (1993) and Stanton’s manager, Don Mattingly (1987)
”I wasn’t really a home run guy like Giancarlo,” Mattingly said. ”I’m hitting singles and doubles mostly, and he’s hitting balls 500 feet.”
After his single in the first, Stanton was hit under his left arm by a 91-mph pitch in the second, tapped out to the pitcher in the fourth, grounded out to short with the bases loaded to end the fifth and singled in the eighth. His average rose to .287.
”If I have good at-bats, it’s a good day for me,” he said. ”I ain’t going to hit a homer 45 games straight.”
Cain (3-10) fell to 0-9 in his past 13 starts. He allowed five runs, two earned, in four innings.
His biggest achievement: He retired Stanton twice.
”I tried to mix it up, change speeds,” Cain said. ”He has been pretty comfortable, so I tried to keep him off balance, and I did a pretty good job of that.”
Catcher’s interference on Nick Hundley and an error by shortstop Brandon Crawford helped the Marlins score three unearned in the first.
”Matt just had some horrible luck in that inning,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Tomas Telis hit a two-out, two-run double, and added an RBI single in the third.
Jose Urena (11-5) limited the Giants to an unearned run in five innings. Urena said the Marlins were waiting for a homer every time Stanton batted, and predicted the slugger’s long-ball binge will resume soon.
”He’s going to hit 60,” Urena said in Spanish. ”I hope he hits 61 and 62.”