By Terrance Turner
April 9, 2022 (updated July 19, Oct. 13)
The New York Yankees are fighting for their playoff lives today, battling the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of the American League Division series. (It’s a best-of-five contest. Both teams are tied at two games apiece.) And Yankees right fielder Giancarlo Stanton just gave them the lead with a massive three-run homer:
It’s just the latest season highlight for Stanton, who thrilled fans inside Yankee Stadium on Oct. 13. The hit came after a blown call. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Yankees dugout and fans thought Stanton would walk after ball four by Cleveland pitcher Shane Bieber. But umpire Jeremiah Rehak didn’t see it that way. Stanton was on his way to first base when Rehak called it a strike, pushing the count to 3-2. But Stanton homered on the very next play. He hit a long fly ball over right field, and that home run gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Stanton was named to the MLB All-Star Game on July 8. (He was one of six Yankees chosen, including Aaron Judge). On July 19, he proved why he belongs there. In the fourth inning, with two strikes down and the American League down 2-0, Stanton smacked a two-run homer off National League pitcher Tony Gonsolin to tie the game:
The American League won, 3-2. Stanton was named on-field MVP of the game. In a postgame interview, one reporter asked, “What does this moment mean to you?” Stanton answered: “It hasn’t fully sank in. It’s gonna be an amazing memory of all of my life,” he said. “I’m just happy. This is incredible.”
This honor added yet another highlight to Stanton’s stellar season. In a primetime game against the rival Boston Red Sox, Stanton blasted a two-run homer at 114 mph, sending the ball flying to right center field and over the wall. It was his 22nd homer of the season.
Making it even more meaningful for Stanton is the location. The All-Star Game was played at Dodger Stadium, in his home city of Los Angeles, on July 19. (He grew up in L.A.) It’s the fifth All-Star selection for the outfielder, per the New York Post.
“It’s really cool to be able to go where I grew up and be in the All-Star Game,’’ Stanton said Friday after the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 12-5, at Fenway Park. Two days before, Stanton had hit a home run to give the Yankees a 15-0 lead (!!!) against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On May 14, Stanton hit his third homer in the past two days to put the Yankees on the board.
This is only the latest homer in a hot streak that has Stanton batting .277 so far. The day before, Stanton SHINED in a game that produced overwhelming offense for the Yankees. With the game just underway, Stanton hit a line-drive home run into center field, putting the Yankees up 2-0. In the third inning, Stanton struck again. With the game tied at 3-3, he smashed another two-run homer to give New York a 5-3 advantage.
Later, in the eighth inning, Stanton delivered a hard single on a changeup, bringing in an extra two runs in a seven-run inning for the Yankees, per MLB.com. His career-high six RBI combined with Aaron Judge’s four to power the Yankees’ blowout 15-7 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Stanton reached a monumental milestone on April 27. In the Yankees’ game against the Baltimore Orioles, Stanton hit a two-run homer in the first inning. Stanton’s home run put the Yankees up 2-0. Stanton hit his third home run of the season. It’s the 350th home run of his career.
Stanton becomes the seventh-fastest player to reach this pinnacle. According to MLB, Mark McGwire was the fastest to reach 350 homers in terms of games played, belting his 350th home run in his 1,280th game on June 2, 1997. Other members of the fastest 350 club include Alex Rodriguez and Babe Ruth — both of whom achieved that with the Yankees.
It was his first homer since the Yankees battled the Boston Red Sox on April 9. Stanton also made history then, in the second game of the Yankees’ series against the Red Sox. After hitting a solo home run on Friday, Stanton gave the Yankees the lead on Saturday, April 9 with a 437-foot blast. The Yankees and Red Sox were tied at 2 when Stanton hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning.
According to the New York Times, Stanton is the first player ever to homer in six straight games against the Red Sox. Three players (Mickey Mantle, Jim Thome, and Ken Griffey Jr.) had each had streaks of five straight home runs apiece.
The Associated Press reports: “Anthony Rizzo homered for the second straight day to start the Yankees’ comeback from an early deficit, a tying two-run drive in the fourth […] Stanton broke a 2-2 tie when he drove an 0-1 slider from Nick Pivetta (0-1) into the first row of the left field bleachers, a 437-foot drive over Boston’s bullpen. Stanton and Rizzo became the first players in Yankees history to homer together in both of a season’s first two games.”
But it was Stanton’s homer that broke the tie — and sealed the game. The two-run lead stayed intact thanks largely to a stellar pitching rotation. Luis Severino pitched for the Yankees through the beginning of the fourth inning and was followed by a series of relievers. According to North Jersey writer Michael Aitken Jr., all six pitched an inning each, keeping the Red Sox lineup hitless for the remainder of the game. Ron Marinaccio, who made his Major League debut, was followed by Miguel Castro, Lucas Luetge, Chad Green, Clay Holmes and Aroldis Chapman. They combined for six hitless innings, walking four and striking out seven.
For his part, Stanton continued his streak of hitting it big as an outfielder. After opening as a designated hitter that Friday, Stanton played right field the next day. Stanton hit nine of his 35 homers last year in 16 games as an outfielder.
“Anything I can do to help this team win,” Stanton said after the game. “Put a good barrel on the ball, and good things are going to happen.” He praised the pitchers, as well: “Awesome,” he said. “They’re executing, getting the job done — low pitch counts, too. So it’s been good. Gotta keep it going.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone praised Rizzo and Stanton’s performance. “G had a lot of good at-bats tonight, ahead of the home run — smoked two balls on the ground his first couple times,” Boone said in a postgame press conference. “Good to see the big boys doing some damage.”
They definitely have. The Yankees opened their season 2-0 for the first time since 2018, according to the New York Post. Now they’re in the playoffs.