Stanton's 'cool feat'? 7th fastest to 350 HRs!

Slugger's three-RBI game leads Yankees to fifth straight win

April 28th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Sure, Giancarlo Stanton remembers his first big league home run; it's not the type of event that is quickly forgotten. Now the seventh-fastest player to reach the 350-homer milestone in terms of games played, the Yankees slugger is thankful for the big swings he has taken along the way.

Stanton connected for the 350th home run of his career on Wednesday evening, helping vault the Yankees into first place in the American League East with their fifth consecutive win, a 5-2 victory over the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s pretty cool,” Stanton said. “When I began this journey, I didn’t really know what to expect or where I’d be, or how long I’d be around. So it’s a cool feat, and it helped us get a win and keep pushing.”

The Bombers (12-6) are alone atop the AL East for the first time since Aug. 19, 2020. Stanton’s 350th was a two-run shot, hit in the first inning off Baltimore starter Tyler Wells. The 417-foot drive rocketed off Stanton’s bat at 108.6 mph, finding a landing spot in the right-field seats.

“That guy, he’s a baller,” said Aaron Judge. “He shows up every day ready to work. I know when he first got here in ’18, he got a lot of criticism and a lot of weight was put on his shoulders, but he handled it the right way. He continues to be a leader in this clubhouse and grow every single year I see him.”

It took Stanton 1,341 games to reach the milestone; his first homer came in his ninth game, a grand slam on June 18, 2010, off the Rays’ Matt Garza.

That blast was launched in a different decade, for another team (the Marlins), in a park no longer in service (Miami’s Sun Life Stadium). Even Stanton’s baseball cards featured another name, identifying the young outfielder as “Mike.”

“That was a completely different player, to be honest,” Stanton said of his 2010 self. “My stance was completely open. I was weighed down. I was swinging as hard as I could, every pitch. Sometimes I get back to that, but I’m just learning and evolving from that person. There’s still plenty of room to evolve.”

Mark McGwire was the fastest to reach 350 homers in terms of games played, belting his 350th homer in his 1,280th game on June 2, 1997. The others to reach 350 home runs faster than Stanton were Juan Gonzalez (1,298), Alex Rodriguez (1,301), Harmon Killebrew (1,319), Albert Pujols (1,320) and Babe Ruth (1,329).

“On a cold night, to hit a no-doubter to the bleachers there in right-center, he had good swings all night,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s good to see him trending that way, but I’m excited for him to get to 350. That’s a pretty big number.”

It was the third home run of the year for Stanton, who last went deep on April 9 and snapped a 14-game homerless stretch. Stanton was 12-for-55 (.218) with one extra-base hit during the drought, striking out 18 times against one walk, but he showed signs of coming out of the funk with a 2-for-4 showing in Tuesday’s 12-8 win over Baltimore.

“I was hoping some hits would be around the corner, let alone [No.] 350,” Stanton said. “Homers will come. I’ve just got to make sure I’m on time and get the barrel there, and it happens.”

Said O’s right-hander Wells, who escaped with a no-decision: “He has a long bat path and he can club the ball really well, especially in that area. I would consider it a bad pitch, but he hit the ball well and it went a long way. There is nothing I can do about it now.”

Stanton later added a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the sixth, supporting right-hander Michael King, who earned the victory in relief of starter Jordan Montgomery. Joey Gallo also homered for the second consecutive game, lifting a blast in the seventh, but this night belonged to Stanton.

After the game, Stanton used a gold paint marker to autograph a black bat in front of his locker, expressing his appreciation that club security successfully brokered the return of the keepsake baseball.

“I’m excited to see what’s next -- seeing 450 and 500 homers,” Judge said.