The iconic Target logo almost became a bull’s eye for Giancarlo Stanton on Wednesday night.
The first of Stanton’s two home runs — and the second of the Yankees’ four long balls during a 9-6 win over the Twins – traveled 423 feet into direct center field and landed somewhere near the hard-to-reach logo on Target Field. Stanton’s five RBI’s were his first in exactly one month, ending a 12-game drought through May 9.
“He’s a very dynamic player and a lot of that is in your face,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Stanton. “You see him stepping into the box as a very physical guy with the kind of strength that very few people have in a professional sport.”
Aaron Judge homered as the second batter of the game and Miguel Andujar homered for the fifth time in eight games, but Stanton delivered the three-point punch the Yankees have come to rely on. Judge doubled the lead on the third and Gleyber Torres ran ahead of Stanton, who caught a flat 0-2 slider across the middle of the plate and launched it to the deluxe club seats over the grassy batter’s eye.
“He’s the kind of man who does things in a hurry,” Baldelli said. “He’s looking for a throw to hit. He’s swinging. He can look bad on one or two throws and then instantly turn the game around on his own. That’s why he is who he is.”
Maybe the Yankees go the way the striped Stanton goes?
Stanton was 2-for-5 with a pair of hits in Tuesday’s series opener. All three of his Wednesday hits were by Randy Dobnak, including his second home run, also on a 0-2 pitch, which just cleared the 7-foot wall in right midfield.
“It was a two-strike error,” Stanton said of his home runs. “Staying through the ball and not rolling those fields over.”
The Yankees were 8-4 from April 23 to May 6, when Stanton hit .481 with a 1,413 OPS, six home runs and 11 RBI’s in 52 at bats. Stanton’s bat cooled in the days that followed and he was taken out of the closet May 14-27 due to a quad strain. When he returned, his power did not. Stanton went in on Thursday, hitting .138, striking out 12 in 29 at bats in the past nine games.
“My balance gets upset sometimes, even if I keep playing,” Stanton said. “Sometimes you come back and you feel good right away. Sometimes you have to get a little better in your legs and through the ball. I just have to keep going.”
Even more frustrating for Yankees fans, who booed him during last week’s homestand flop, is the $325 million slugger’s inability to play more than three consecutive days, despite working as a designated batter. His return coincided with a 2-6 Yankees stretch.
“You plan a tentative week and see how things are going from day to day,” Stanton said. “As we get further away from me not to play for a few weeks, I can be there more and not have to lose days.”
The Yankees are 6-3 when Stanton homers, which contradicts the popular conspiracy theory that too many of his homers are late in losing.
Before Wednesday, he had one career home run in 15 games against the Twins – his least against any opponent other than the Marlins, his old team.