NEW YORK — As Giancarlo Stanton ran around the bases early in Tuesday night’s game against the rival Boston Red Sox, cameras caught a couple of his Yankees teammates trying to emulate his violent, line-drive swing.
Most notable was veteran starting pitcher CC Sabathia, throwing out his hands and rolling over his wrists in an action that mimicked, in an exaggerating manner, the downward slice of someone swinging an ax. He and others in the Yankees’ dugout were trying to figure out how Stanton could have hit a homer based on the location of the up-and-away pitch.
“For G to get on top of it and keep it fair like that, it was impressive,” said Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge, one of those seen copying Stanton’s stroke.
Two innings after that homer, Stanton hit another home run that Judge called “incredible.”
For the third time this season, and for a major league-leading 31 times since 2010, Stanton on Tuesday night hit multiple homers in a game. Both blasts, one to left and one to right, factored in the Yankees’ 3-2 win over the Red Sox.
The homers were Stanton’s first as part of the Yankees’ rivalry with the Red Sox.
The win put the Yankees and Red Sox into a tie for first place in the American League East. It also was the Yankees’ 16th win in 17 games, marking the first time since June 1953 that New York has posted a 16-1 or better stretch in a 17-game span in a single season. The Yankees went on to win the World Series in 1953.
Stanton’s homers also helped put to rest concerns that he still hadn’t quite had the sustained breakout that even he mentioned last week he was still looking for.
“There are breakout nights, but you’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get it done,” Stanton said after a two-homer game at Houston last week. “You need breakout weeks. One day ain’t going to do it.”
After hitting his sixth and seventh homers in the win over the Astros, Stanton slipped into a 1-for-11 slide across three games. He didn’t record a hit in a fourth game, but he did draw a pinch-hit walk that sparked a rally that culminated in a Yankees walk-off homer.
Stanton’s slide came after he piled up strikeouts early in the season, including during a homestand in which he had a pair of five-strikeout performances.
“For as much as I feel like we talk about it, it’s still been fairly productive,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Stanton’s hitting. “Obviously, we know there’s going to be a point where he really gets it rolling, but we’re built that way.
“Our lineup, it’s going to be different guys. You’re not going to have guys hot all the time. You’re going to have guys that go through a funk, even some of your best players. So that’s just the nature of hitting and offense and a lineup. You’re going to kind of have those ebb and flows with guys.”
Boone added that he thought Stanton was still hitting lefties well this season. It is worth noting that his three multihomer games all came against left-handed pitchers, and they also all came with Luis Severino pitching for New York.
Stanton’s OPS numbers also are off the charts when facing southpaws. Against lefties, he has a major league-leading 1.575 OPS. Against righties, he has a .615 OPS.
As for Tuesday’s homers, the first was a laser shot that was lined from his bat into the left-field bleacher seats in 3.8 seconds. The second was more of a towering drive, struck with a 31-degree launch angle, according to Statcast. After traveling 365 feet to the opposite field, it fell into the right-field stands.
It was that first homer off Drew Pomeranz‘s high and away 91.7 mph fastball that left Boone gawking.
“I just kind of looked and smiled. That’s weird,” Boone said. “A superhero swing.
“It just comes out, and when he connects, it comes off different.”
Stanton said the swing might have looked a little unorthodox to some because he needed to treat the pitch like an inside fastball. He wanted to keep his hands inside the ball so as to still approach it with the same short-swing ferocity, instead of trying to loop around and yank the pitch as he has done at other times this season.
“It was an elevated pitch, so that’s like hitting the inside pitch,” Stanton said. “You’ve got to get inside and be quicker to it and try to chop it down.”
In addition to Stanton’s performance, the Yankees also got a run off Judge’s bat in the seventh. The go-ahead single came off Joe Kelly, the Red Sox reliever who drew the ire of Yankees fans last month when he threw at New York first baseman Tyler Austin. That led to a brawl in which Kelly was hauled out of the way in a headlock by the much larger Judge.
As Kelly came in from the bullpen to face Judge, a loud chorus of boos echoed throughout Yankee Stadium.
“You don’t forget. But [as a player] you’ve got to move on. You can’t live in the past,” Judge said. “[But] we’re so focused on the situation in the game that we can’t get out of hand with stuff that happened in the past. We’ve got to focus on what’s happening right now in this situation.”