MILWAUKEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Who would’ve thought that there is so much at stake for the Miami Marlins in September?
Giancarlo Stanton isn’t just making a case to become the first Marlins player to win NL MVP, he’s also spurring the club’s outside chance at a playoff spot.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ swoon has damaged their hopes of returning to the postseason.
Stanton looks for sole possession of the Marlins’ home run record as they attempt to beat the Brewers again Tuesday night at Miller Park.
Stanton leads the NL with 37 homers and a career-high 105 RBIs, while his .291 average is also a personal best.
The All-Star right fielder hit his latest homer – a solo shot – in Monday’s 6-4 win at Milwaukee, and he tied Dan Uggla’s franchise record of 154 in 631 games – 145 fewer than Uggla.
“I know he is not focused on personal stats,” manager Mike Redmond said. “That is something he can reflect on at the end of the year. I know that in conversation with him, he is trying to win ball games and help us get to the playoffs. But, that is pretty special. He has had an unbelievable year. He has been a huge part of this ballclub.”
The Marlins (70-72) are 4 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the NL’s second wild-card spot, while Milwaukee (74-70) is 1 1/2 games back, tied with Atlanta.
The Brewers, however, were once seen as a near-certain postseason participant before dropping 12 of 13 games to relinquish the NL Central lead to St. Louis.
“They aren’t playing their best as of late, I noticed,” said Stanton, who has homered on three of his four hits in 15 at-bats versus Milwaukee this year. “We can’t be the team that turns them back around.”
Stanton isn’t the only Marlin hitting the ball hard – Marcell Ozuna has 20 homers and 80 RBIs in his first full season in the majors.
The center fielder is 8 for 17 (.471) with three doubles and six RBIs in four games, and he homered for one of his two hits in the opener of this four-game set.
Another strong performance at the plate may be needed since Miami is turning to Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.74 ERA), who has allowed 11 runs and four homers over seven innings in two games versus Milwaukee.
The right-hander was hammered for seven runs in five innings of a 9-5 loss in his only start against the Brewers on May 23.
Koehler, though, enters his first visit to Miller Park with a 2-0 record and 3.48 ERA in five starts, completing at least six innings in each of the last four.
He had a career-high 10 strikeouts while yielding two runs in seven innings while not figuring in the decision of a 4-3 loss Wednesday to the New York Mets.
“I felt good, but unfortunately personal results don’t really matter right now when we’re trying to go on a little bit of a run here and win ballgames,” Koehler said. “I would have much rather have got rocked and we won the game.”
The Brewers will counter with Matt Garza (7-8, 3.87), who struggled in his first start in 31 days after a strained left oblique landed him on the disabled list.
The right-hander tied his season high by giving up six runs in three innings of a 6-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
“I was fine physically. Everything checked out and it was good,” Garza told MLB’s official website.
Garza is 0-2 with an 8.78 ERA over his last three starts against the Marlins, but he hasn’t faced them since a loss with the Cubs on April 18, 2012.
Stanton is 3 for 8 with a homer against him.
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