Stanton homers twice in Yankees debut

With 117.3-mph exit velocity, 1st drive is hardest-hit oppo HR in Statcast history

March 29th, 2018

TORONTO -- wants the Yankees to embrace the expectations that promise to trail them through the next 161 games, a hype train that will be at full speed after the slugger homered twice for a historic Opening Day debut during Thursday's 6-1 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

After leading the Majors with 59 home runs last year, Stanton picked up where he left off, mashing the second pitch he saw in his new uniform for a two-run shot. Stanton added a ninth-inning solo blast, joining Roger Maris (1960) as the only Yankees to enjoy a multihomer debut for the franchise. Maris went on to win the American League MVP Award that year.

"To get that first one out of the way early, I can stop worrying about it," Stanton said. "It was a great day. ... It's good to get off to a good start here, keep it rolling in the series. You've got 161 to go."

Serving as the Yanks' designated hitter, Stanton's first homer came off left-hander J.A. Happ, who buzzed a called strike over the plate before challenging the reigning National League MVP Award winner with a 91.7-mph sinker.

Stanton pounced, clobbering a drive that traveled a Statcast-projected 426 feet and had an exit velocity of 117.3 mph, making it the hardest-hit opposite-field homer in Statcast™ history.

It was the fastest homer ever tracked at Rogers Centre, and the next three on the ballpark's list also belong to Yankees personnel: (113.6 mph), (113.2 mph) and Judge again (113.1 mph).

"It was tough to go through them before Stanton showed up," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I guess if you're going to a new city, that's probably the way to open it up."

Stanton became the 19th Yankee since 1961 to homer in his first at-bat for the team, and the first since Judge and both did it by hitting back-to-back home runs on Aug. 13, 2016.

Additionally, Stanton became the first player to homer in his first Yankees at-bat on Opening Day since on April 4, 2010. Coincidentally, Granderson, Austin and Judge all played in Thursday's game.


"The last week, his timing has been really good, like he's starting to find that good timing," manager Aaron Boone said. "For a guy with his talent and his power, once he gets on time, he's deadly."

Stanton raked a run-scoring double to greet in the fifth inning before cracking a solo homer off in the ninth, a shot to center field that landed in a bunting-covered seating area and was projected by Statcast™ to have traveled 434 feet.

"Wow. That's what he does, though," Judge said. "That's what we've seen all spring. That's what we saw last year with the Marlins. My job is pretty simple right now: just get on base for G. It's going to be a fun year if he keeps doing what he does."

"I've never seen a debut like that," reliever said. "First game with the Yankees, for him to do what he did today was unbelievable. I know he's going to have fun with this team and he's going to enjoy the process here. I've never seen anything like that. Those balls were hit out in less than two seconds. The guy just has massive pop."

The performance gave Stanton five homers in four career games at Rogers Centre. The previous three came in 2015 as a member of the Marlins, for whom Stanton played the first eight seasons of his career before being acquired in a blockbuster December trade.

Asked if there was something he liked about playing north of the border, Stanton said, "Good dimensions."

As Stanton rounded the bases, yelled, "Stay back! Stay back!" to his teammates on the bench. Stanton returned to the dugout to receive the silent treatment, grinning broadly and high-fiving air. The only congratulations were offered by Steve Donohue, the team's head athletic trainer.

"I wasn't ready for that one," Stanton said. "I'll have to have a better act the next time. It was fun. It's all in good fun. It helped solidify a win and have fun in the process."