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The Weekend Takeaway
Eleven-game, three-city road trips in the August heat are not for the faint of heart. But Giancarlo Stanton doesn’t mind. 

The Marlins stumbled to a 5-6 finish on their National League West tour, splitting four-game sets with the Rockies and Diamondbacks and avoiding a sweep with a 6-2 victory over the Dodgers on Sunday. Stanton left his mark at all three venues.

The 22-year-old went deep in each of the first three games at Coors Field, extending his home-run streak at that stadium to six, before being held to an 0-for-2 effort with two walks in the series finale. The Marlins’ team plane may have landed in Phoenix before this 494-foot blast in game one of four found the Coors Field stands.

Stanton didn't take long to impress the fans at Chase Field, either. He contributed two big flies to Miami’s 12-3 victory in the series opener, leaving the home team flabbergasted.

Here’s manager Kirk Gibson after the first one:

And here’s Ian Kennedy after number two:

Stanton was merciful in the ensuing three games, confining himself to a 3-for-6 effort the next day before going a quiet 0-for-4 the rest of the way. Once the D-Backs got to Dodger Stadium, though, their right fielder went right back to yardwork.

The Panorama, Calif., native had two career home runs in six games at Chavez Ravine before Friday’s opener. He delivered one in each of the three contests there this past weekend, giving him five in nine. And it was this doozy to dead-center field that paved the way for the Marlins’ win on Sunday.

Stanton, who missed a month with a knee injury from June 7 to July 7, now has 29 home runs on the season, good for second in the senior circuit behind only Ryan Braun’s 34. With the Marlins back to square one in their perpetual rebuilding process, even manager Ozzie Guillen agrees that he’s “the highlight of the month right now.”

After a day off on Monday, Stanton will attempt to go deep in a fourth straight game—a feat he previously accomplished on Aug. 14-17, 2007. But it won’t be easy, with Stephen Strasburg set to toe the rubber for the Nationals.

What to Watch for on Monday

  • A.J. Burnett allowed 17 Padres to reach base (12 hits, five walks) in his most recent start, and although he was able to limit the damage to four runs, the Pirates lost, 7-5. The 35-year-old righty’s ERA has climbed steadily this month, from 3.27 to 2.63, and Pittsburgh is 1-2 in his last three starts after winning 16 of his previous 17. Burnett will try to turn things around as the Pirates—now in third place, eight games behind the Reds and two shy of the Cardinals—jockey for position in the National League wild card race (7:05 p.m. ET).
  • Two of the hardest-throwing left-handed starters in the game will lock horns in the series opener between the Rays and the Rangers, as David Price duels Derek Holland. Gopher balls have plagued Holland throughout this season, both on the road and in hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark, where he owns a 5.43 ERA this season. Price, on the other hand, has served up just three home runs in 170 innings of work, and only three in 58 1/3 frames since the All-Star break. He’ll need to slow down Nelson Cruz—who is 5-for-10 with a home run in their past meetings—to become the majors’ first 17-game winner (8:05 p.m. ET).
  • The first-place Reds are coming to the desert, and Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero is salivating, because he’ll get to face Bronson Arroyo in game one. Among the pitchers who have taken on Montero at least 15 times, no one has incurred more damage than Arroyo, as the 29-year-old Venezuelan has lit him up to the tune of an 8-for-15 line with three home runs and a 1.763 OPS. Montero, already in the midst of the best offensive season of his career, has logged a .297/.408/.516 triple slash in the second half, and he has a golden opportunity to pad those numbers while catching Tyler Skaggs tonight (9:40 p.m. ET).
  • In an odd coincidence, Josh Beckett will make his first start in a Dodgers uniform on the same night that Casey Kelly—a key component of the package the Red Sox traded to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez—debuts for the Padres. Beckett has struggled with the long ball of late, allowing seven dingers in his last three outings, so Coors Field may be an inopportune venue for his Dodgers debut. His last outing against the Rockies came in Game One of the 2007 World Series (8:40 p.m. ET). Kelly, on the other hand, will enjoy the comforts of Petco Park as he settles into the big leagues while battling the Braves. The 30th-overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, Kelly has compiled an outstanding 39:3 K:BB ratio over 37 2/3 minor-league innings this year (10:05 p.m. ET). 

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Will the Strasburg-Stanton Showdown be the final word on the Immovable Object Irresistable Force debate?