Young pitchers get nod in Giants-Marlins opener
MIAMI — The Miami Marlins, who have won five of their past seven series, hope to continue their positive momentum on Monday when they open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the majors with 42 homers, is leading the Marlins’ charge. He is one homer away from breaking Gary Sheffield’s franchise single-season record set in 1996.
In addition, Stanton has hit nine homers in his past 10 games and 21 long balls in his past 33 contests. He belted a solo shot Sunday in the Marlins’ 5-3 win over the Colorado Rockies that completed a three-game sweep.
“I think he likes hitting homers,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said with a smirk. “He smiles a lot when he hits homers. He seems to be riding the wave. He’s having fun.”
The Marlins have had some fun at the Giants’ expense lately. Since 2015, the Marlins are 10-6 against the Giants, including 3-0 this year, sweeping a series at San Francisco from July 7-9.
Neither team is a legitimate playoff contender this year. The Marlins are 56-60 and 8 1/2 games out of contention for a wild-card spot. They would have to pass four teams that they are now trailing to get in the playoffs — an unlikely scenario.
The Giants (47-72) are completely out of it with the third-worst record in the majors. And San Francisco’s best player, All-Star catcher Buster Posey, has not had much success in 41 career games against the Marlins, batting .262 with just two homers.
On Monday, the Marlins will start second-year left-hander Adam Conley (4-5, 5.43 ERA), and the Giants will throw rookie lefty Ty Blach (8-7, 4.15).
Conley has lost his past two starts. He allowed a season-high 11 hits and five runs in five innings Wednesday at Washington.
Blach is 2-0 in August and has pitched at least seven innings in five consecutive starts. He pitches to contact, averaging just 4.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 9.7 hits. However, he doesn’t walk many (1.9 per nine) and gives up few homers — just two in his past seven starts.
There is not much past history to go on for Conley against the Giants — just one meeting. He got a no-decision after allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings at San Francisco on April 24, 2016.
Blach, who has never faced Miami, will very quickly have to figure out how to slow Stanton, who comes up second in the batting order.
For his career, Stanton has 101 homers at Marlins Park and 250 overall. He moved ahead of Mickey Mantle into 16th place in major league history for the most long balls in a player’s first eight years. Since 1913, Stanton is the sixth-fastest player to reach 250 homers.
Stanton also leads the majors with 19 go-ahead homers this year, a Marlins single-season record.
“He’s getting up there with a lot of confidence, and he’s swinging the bat well,” Mattingly said. “He’s getting pitches to hit.
“You want to stretch out this (hot streak) as long as it will go because there are days coming where you get shut down.”
The Giants hope that starts Monday with Blach and with pitchers such as former Marlins reliever Sam Dyson and closer Mark Melancon, who came off the disabled list on Saturday.
Melancon, who hadn’t pitched since June 27 due to an elbow injury, threw a scoreless inning Saturday night against Washington.
“This hasn’t been easy,” Melancon said. “It was a tough couple of weeks on the DL, but I’m excited to get out there again.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he would try to ease Melancon back into high-leverage situations. In the meantime, Dyson will serve as the closer.
Dyson has nine saves in his past 10 chances. He also has a 2.13 ERA in 24 appearances for San Francisco.
The Giants, who played three games in 24 hours, including a doubleheader that they split with the Nationals on Sunday, surely will be a tired team when they arrive in Miami without the benefit of a day off on the current road trip.
San Francisco has also yet to name a starter for the Wednesday series finale against the Marlins.
Matt Cain, who hasn’t started a game since July 31, is the likely choice. Albert Suarez, who started 12 games for the Giants last year, is another option. Suarez has made six big-league appearances this season, all in relief, including Sunday night, when he allowed a walk-off grand slam to Washington’s Howie Kendrick in the 11th inning.
Meanwhile, Mattingly said Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough (shoulder impingement) is nearing a return from the disabled list. That could happen during the Giants series, according to the Miami manager.