By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa. Mark McGwire. Roger Maris. Babe Ruth.
And now Giancarlo Stanton.
The Miami slugger homered twice to become the sixth player to reach 59 in a season, and the Marlins opened the last series of Jeffrey Loria’s tenure as owner by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Thursday night.
“It’s crazy to be in that company,” Stanton said . “It doesn’t sink in yet. It doesn’t make sense, really, yet. But it’s really cool. It’s everything I’ve worked for and it’s something really cool.”
Stanton hit a solo home run in the fourth , then added a two-run drive in the eighth that would have gone 467 feet unimpeded, according to MLB’s Statcast. He has 33 home runs since the All-Star break and 10 multihomer games this season.
“It’s impressive. I think he should be impressed, because it’s been something special here,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Those two balls he hit tonight are obviously loud and quick and fun to watch. It’s amazing when you see them. It’s been fun watching this, that’s for sure. Pretty amazing to me that somebody hits that many. It’s just a lot of homers.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker could only tip his cap to Stanton afterward.
“It’s incredible to watch him hit,” Snitker said. “He’s having a monster year; a monster year all around.”
Ichiro Suzuki got his 27th pinch hit of the year, one shy of the record John Vander Wal set in 1995. Dee Gordon had two hits for the Marlins, who despite a 75-84 record assured themselves of second place in the NL East, their highest finish since 2009.
Lane Adams homered for Atlanta, which fell to 34-17 at Marlins Park. The Braves need to win two of its final three games to avoid three straight 90-loss seasons for the first time since 1988-90.
Marlins rookie Dillon Peters (1-2) allowed two hits and struck out four in 5 2/3 shutout innings for his first big league win. Braves starter Julio Teheran (11-13) gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings, including the first of Stanton’s two homers.
“You don’t know what to throw,” Teheran said. “Or you worry that if you throw it there, he might hit it really far.”
That’s usually the case.
“There’s really no doubt about most of his,” Mattingly said.
These are Miami’s final home games before a group led by Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman takes over as owners, a transition scheduled to close Monday. Marlins president David Samson isn’t being retained and was emotional when speaking Thursday spoke of the looming farewell. Mattingly said he has yet to speak with Jeter — his former Yankees teammate — about what comes next.
“Watching Derek over the years, the way he does things, he’s not going to come here and want to just get beat up,” Mattingly said. “He’s going to come here and want to build this thing and do it right. It’s going to be a positive with Derek here.”
But the Marlins aren’t thinking about 2018 quite yet.
For now, the number in mind is 60 — Stanton’s next target.
“It’s impossible not to think about,” Stanton said. “But the more you think about it, the harder it’s going to be in my perspective. Take the rest of the at-bats, simplify it, and if it happens, it happens. If not, then it’s not failure. I think I’ll survive.”
Atlanta: LHP Max Fried will get the start in Sunday’s season finale. RHP R.A. Dickey was under consideration for the spot, but barring some unplanned relief appearance, his season is apparently over.
Miami: SS Miguel Rojas, who was 5 for 10 in Miami’s last three games, started on the bench for a bit of rest before coming in late. Mike Aviles started in his place.
THEY’RE NO. 2
The Marlins have never won a division title — hard to believe, considering they’ve won two World Series — and have now finished second only four times. They did it in the World Series years of 1997 and 2003, then again in 2009 — and missed the playoffs.
Gordon has 196 hits and 58 stolen bases, the third player in MLB history to have multiple seasons with those numbers. Ty Cobb did it five times, former Marlins outfielder Juan Pierre did it three times and now Gordon has two such seasons.
Teheran reached 30 starts for the fifth straight year, the first Braves pitcher to do so since Greg Maddux had eight in a row from 1996-2003. Teheran was 8-3 in 15 road starts.
LHP Luiz Gohara (1-3, 4.63) starts for Atlanta on Friday night against Miami RHP Dan Straily (10-9, 4.08).
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