Stanton’s homers fuel Marlins’ surge in May

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MIAMI (AP) - The Miami Marlins’ latest homestand ended with their new ballpark still standing, despite Giancarlo Stanton blasting home runs off it.

He became the first player to hit the home-run sculpture, and the first player to homer into the beer garden. He also knocked out a section of the scoreboard with a homer.

“That’s why we have maintenance workers _ to fix the things Giancarlo breaks,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said with a chuckle.

The 6-foot-5, 246-pound Stanton has become a master of the tape-measure homer and more. He hit 12 home runs in May to tie the franchise record for a single month, and drove in 30 runs.

Since the start of the expansion era in 1961, the only other player under age 23 to total more homers and RBIs in a single month was Bob Horner in 1980, the Marlins said, citing the Elias Sports Bureau.

Stanton doesn’t turn 23 until November.

“Unbelievable,” teammate Jose Reyes said, shaking his head. “No one hits the ball harder than that guy. It’s fun to watch. And he’s only 22. It’s unbelievable. He’s 22! Unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

“He’s a little bit of a freak,” teammate John Buck added.

Opponents are likewise impressed.

“There’s not a park that’s going hold him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

The buzz about the Marlins’ right fielder has been slowly building since he had three hits in his major-league debut in 2010. His majestic clouts are attracting more notice now that the perennially overlooked Marlins are on the national radar thanks to an offseason spending spree and a 21-8 record in May, best in the majors.

Just when the name Mike Stanton was starting to catch on _ thanks to 56 homers in his first two seasons _ the slugger asked to be called Giancarlo. His full name is Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton, and he went with Mike in school because it was easier to pronounce.

Pretty much everyone has adjusted to the rebranding except for Stanton’s biggest fan, Cash Johnson. He’s the 4-year-old son of Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson.

“Cash calls him `Mike Stanton‘ every time,” Johnson said. “Not `Stanton,’ not `Mike,’ but `Mike Stanton.’ He has always been his favorite player. He was in the weight room with Stanton on one of those physio balls stretching out with him, and he cried when he had to leave because he wanted to stay.

“He doesn’t talk to anybody unless his name is Mike Stanton. I don’t know if I can switch him over to Giancarlo.”

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