Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton’s Tuesday began and ended the same way.
"I get a water shower before the game and after," Stanton said. "Now I get my own shower. Showers all around."
Hours after taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, allowing a fan to dump a bucket over his head while raising more than $4,500 for the ALS Recovery Fund, Stanton produced the walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning of the Marlins’ 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
With the victory, Miami (63-62) moved over .500 for the first time since June 20 and remains three games back in the National League wild-card race; the Giants, currently in the second wild-card spot, played the Cubs late Tuesday night. The Marlins have 11 walk-off, 32 one-run and 21 last at-bat wins this season, each statistic leading the majors.
"That’s the step," manager Mike Redmond said. "Once you get to .500, you try to see how many games over .500 you can get. The teams that go to the playoffs, you see the record. You know where you gotta go but we can’t get too far ahead ourselves. We really just need to focus in one day at a time. That was a fun one (Tuesday). It wasn’t easy. We had to work hard. We had a lot of different efforts, great efforts to keep us in that ballgame and finally to get the win."
Although the Marlins left a season-high 15 runners on base, they won their third 10-inning game of the month with Stanton’s heroics.
Considered by some to be the frontrunner for NL MVP, he sought redemption after a blooper-worthy miscue in the field cost his team during the seventh.
Rougned Odor blasted a leadoff shot to the right-field wall that Stanton initially thought he could track down. Instead, the ball scooted away. When Stanton did get the ball in his glove, it bounced out and away from him, allowing Odor to score on the play. The Rangers scored again later in the inning to tie the game at 3.
The two-time All-Star Stanton, much to his frustration, wouldn’t get an opportunity to make up for it over his next two plate appearances when the Rangers walked him in both the seventh and eighth innings.
In the 10th, Jeff Baker reached on a fielding error with one out. Christian Yelich lined out to short before Donovan Solano kept the inning alive with an infield single up the middle.
Stanton approached the at-bat with the mentality the club wasn’t going to lose because of him. Not with a postseason race heating up. Not with a chance to keep pace. He took the club on his back like he has all season.
Texas went with its closer Neftali Feliz, who quickly got ahead 1-2 in the count. On a 92 mph fastball, Stanton sent a liner past first baseman Mike Carp for the game-winning hit — his second of the walk-off variety this season.
"I didn’t like those sliders that were called, so I was already fired up about that," Stanton said. "I knew we were in extra innings because of me, so I was already fired up about that. When I saw him dragging in I was like, ‘You put us in this situation. Make sure you’re calm and collected and get us out.’ I got the two strikes there. He tried to sneak a fastball away and made a good swing deep to right field."
Added Miami starting pitcher Jarred Cosart: "It was obviously a team win. When you’re in a race, any way you can get it. The way we’ve been playing lately with the best hitter up you got a pretty good chance to win. It kind of sucks to come in from the bullpen knowing you have to face that guy."