NEW YORK -- While the Yankees rolled against David Price and the Red Sox on Wednesday evening, littering the scoreboard with crooked numbers from the second inning on, one of their most important sluggers was left out of the fun.After a season of fattening his numbers against Boston pitching, Giancarlo
NEW YORK -- While the Yankees rolled against David Price and the Red Sox on Wednesday evening, littering the scoreboard with crooked numbers from the second inning on, one of their most important sluggers was left out of the fun.
After a season of fattening his numbers against Boston pitching, Giancarlo Stanton was 0-for-9 in the first two games of the series. His fortunes changed in the fourth inning on Thursday, as Stanton crushed a grand slam to right field off Richard Hembree, giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead at the time.
Stanton had batted .130 (12-for-92) with two homers in his last 24 games, a drought that he was thrilled to end. Raising his arms after contact, Stanton leaped and bashed his large frame into teammates after crossing home plate, then accepted a curtain call from the roaring crowd.
Before Thursday's game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone expressed confidence that Stanton was close to getting his swing on track.
"I think the timing has been just a little bit off," Boone said. "Every hitter strives to be on time and be in that good position to hit, and I just think he's had a little bit of a hard time being on time consistently. The result is sometimes you don't swing at pitches you should be or you're a little behind on pitches because you're not on time."
Boone said that he does not believe Stanton's left hamstring has been a significant issue, even as managing the tightness in his leg prompted the Yankees to limit Stanton's defensive innings.
"There's no question this time of the year when you've played every day there's a fatigue factor, but I honestly don't think it's been much of a factor with him swinging the bat," Boone said. "It's something that he's dealt with. I think there's been times in the year when it's been a little bit sore, he's been at his best at the plate."
Stanton made 85 consecutive starts from May 28 through Sept. 1, saying at one point that while he could have benefited from a break, he felt a responsibility to be on the field while fellow stars Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez were sidelined.
"As much as he's played and the wear and tear that goes with it, I think that's affected his legs a little bit … but he's done such as good job of handling it and maintaining it," Boone said. "I really don't think there's anything that is preventing him from getting rolling again, and I believe he will. He'll get it rolling again."
The "dude" abides
The Yankees believed that they were importing a quality performer with their late August trade for Andrew McCutchen, noting the .357 on-base percentage that he had compiled in 568 plate appearances with the Giants.
McCutchen has continued to impress his new club, entering play on Thursday having reached base safely in exactly half of his last 40 plate appearances (eight hits, 11 walks and one hit-by-pitch). That performance prompted Boone to remark that McCutchen "is going to be a dude for us" in October.
"All we've seen since he's gotten here, even the first week when he wasn't getting a lot of hits, we've seen a guy that really controls the strike zone and has gotten on base a ton for us," Boone said. "He has been an impactful teammate, and someone that plays like a winning player. He's done a lot for us."
McCutchen's presence and Judge's activation from the disabled list has reduced playing time for Brett Gardner, but Boone said that he sees avenues to get Gardner into games as a defensive replacement or by resting regulars.
"Down the final 10 games, he's going to play a lot and he's going to start a lot," Boone said of Gardner. "I'm going to have to give Aaron Judge a day off. I'm going to have to give McCutchen a day. I want to give Stanton a day, [Aaron] Hicks a day.
"You add all those up and Gardy is the guy that is playing in those situations. They all will be able to protect each other. They all will get at-bats here. He can very much play himself into a more significant role than you may think sitting here right now."
This date in Yankees history
Sept. 20, 1958: The Yankees are held hitless by Orioles knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm in a 1-0 loss at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. It remains the most recent time that the Yankees have been no-hit by a single pitcher, though six Astros combined to no-hit the Yankees on June 11, 2003.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.