ST. LOUIS -- The Marlins patiently waited through the month of April for Mike Stanton and Hanley Ramirez to start resembling the hitters they can be where they are at their best.
Two days into the month of May, it looks like Stanton is a lot closer to returning to form. His 3 for 5 performance Monday night against the Cardinals wasn't just crucial in a 6-5 come-from-behind victory, which tied the Marlins with the Phillies for the best record in the National League at 18-9.
The way Stanton swung the bat and connected -- belting a 417-foot line-drive into the second deck to tie the game, and a frozen rope line drive to center that led to a triple and eventually the game winning run -- was reminiscent of the player we saw putting on laser shows throughout spring training. Although his legs aren't totally healed yet (straigned right quad, left hamstring), his swing sure looks like it is.
""The home run was very impressive. But that triple, it was a hard hit line drive," Rodriguez said. "The good thing I saw today not only the way he's hitting, but he's driving the ball, middle, middle away. That's a very good sign."
Stanton's home run came an 0-2 changeup from Kyle Lohse. He entered Monday 6-for-38 (.158) on 0-2 counts. "He was trying to freeze me with a changeup," Stanton said. "Obviously, if it doesn't work it's a bad pitch. If it works, it's a good pitch."
The triple? Well, that was just sick. "That ball was absolutely scorched," said Greg Dobbs, who drove Stanton home with what turned out to be the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly to right.
"He's so strong. The home run too. When he gets it, the ball explodes off his bat."
Stanton struckout in his final at-bat in the ninth with runners on the corners. But all-in-all it was a good night for Stanton, his first three-hit game of the season and a strong sign he's about to break out.
"It was good for him. He needs that," Rodriguez said. "Now, we have to get Hanley ready, get him on track."