The Yankees urged Giancarlo Stanton to get back to the basics, focusing on taking swings with conviction. Boy, did he ever.
Stanton rounded the bases twice in the 33rd multihomer game of his career, becoming the first player in the Statcast era to hit two homers of 115 mph or more in the same game. Those line-drive missiles highlighted a four-homer Yankees attack in a 5-3 victory over the Indians on Friday evening at Progressive Field.
"It's nice to catch up to some fastballs, put the barrel on the ball and help us get a win," Stanton said. "One good game isn't anything either, so I've got to just feed off of it."
After being given Thursday's series opener off for rest, Stanton announced his presence loudly in the third inning, mashing a go-ahead 429-foot homer facing left-hander Logan Allen that sizzled off Stanton's bat at 118.0 mph and landed in the left-field bleachers -- the hardest-hit homer in the Majors so far this season.
Stanton provided an encore in his next at-bat, crushing a solo 418-foot drive to the bullpens in right-center field off right-hander Trevor Stephan. That homer came off Stanton's bat at 115.7 mph, securing his first multihomer game since Sept. 27, 2018.
"It's weird; it's just different," said manager Aaron Boone. "You just don't see balls hit like that, and to hit two of them like he did in the game -- it was two really impressive swings. When he's locked in, when he hits them like that, it's just different than anyone I've ever seen."
Added Yankees infielder Rougned Odor: "He crushed those two balls. When he hits it, he's going to do some damage. As soon as he hit [the second one], we were like, 'Here we go again.'"
Stanton entered the evening in a 3-for-32 slide, one that he hopes has been blasted into oblivion.
"Obviously, I had to make an adjustment," Stanton said. "Sooner or later, if you stick to it, it's going to pan out. It's already a failure-first sport, so it's just sticking with something and making slight adjustments with that."
Déjà vu all over again
Down 3-0 after one inning for the second consecutive night, the Yanks tied the game in the second inning as Aaron Hicks and Odor homered off Allen.
That gave Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery room to settle in after a bumpy 37-pitch first inning, tweaking his mechanics to get his pitches down in the strike zone.
"I really just needed to get myself together out there," Montgomery said. "I knew that I needed to get a job done, so I just bounced back and ate some innings as best I could."
Boone said that he was one hitter away from removing Montgomery in that first inning, wincing as the lefty's pitch count rose. Montgomery navigated into the fifth, showing his displeasure at being lifted from a two-on, two-out jam.
"For as much of a grind as that first inning was, for him to get us into the fifth inning was another gutsy effort," Boone said. "He's done that a couple of times where it hasn't been perfect, but he's competed and given us a chance."
Lucas Luetge relieved Montgomery and dropped a nasty curve that caught Franmil Reyes looking, stranding those runners aboard and protecting the lead. The lefty said that he'd actually missed his spot with the hook, intending to bounce it in the dirt as a chase pitch.
"It felt good coming out of my hand, and I was obviously pleased to get out of that situation," Luetge said. "Sometimes it just works out like that."
"It was another really good win -- a lot of contributors from Monty on down through the bullpen," Boone said. "I just felt like there were more and more quality at-bats from the whole group, and that's good to see."
Luetge also pitched around a sixth-inning walk and was credited with his first Major League victory since Sept. 4, 2013; Luetge said that he hoped to grab a lineup card from the game and have it signed by his teammates as a souvenir.