After 5-K day, Stanton happy Yanks cleaned up
NEW YORK -- It was not the first impression that Giancarlo Stanton planned on making in his pinstripes, but watching Didi Gregorius circle the bases during his home opener for the ages made the reigning National League MVP's first career five-strikeout game much easier to absorb.
"It was fun to watch, man. That was really good," Stanton said after the Yankees' 11-4 victory over the Rays, in which Gregorius homered twice and collected eight RBIs. "He picked me up, too. That's what a cleanup hitter does. You clean up the garbage in front of you."
Stanton homered twice on Opening Day against the Blue Jays in Toronto, but was unable to recapture that magic as the team broke the seal on its 81-game home slate.
"That just goes with the territory," manager Aaron Boone said. "I like when the big boy doesn't get anything and we're able to score 11 because there are going to be a lot of days where we hop on his back. … When you're a big-time slugger like that, there will be days like that. The fact that we were still able to roll out 11, I don't even blink at it."
Facing Rays starter Chris Archer, Stanton fanned in the first, looked at a called third strike in the third and whiffed in the fifth. He's now 0-for-9 lifetime against Archer, with five strikeouts.
"He had the slider working tonight, to both sides of the plate," Stanton said.
In the seventh inning, Stanton struck out swinging against Austin Pruitt to pick up the Golden Sombrero. He'd had nine previous 0-for-4, four strikeout games in his career, last doing so on May 18, 2016, for the Marlins against the Phillies.
Stanton got one more chance in the eighth, stepping up with the bases loaded, but Sergio Romo got the slugger to wave at a 77.4 mph slider for strike three. Stanton heard boos after fanning in his fourth and fifth at-bats of the game.
"You put up a performance like that, you should get booed," Stanton said. "It's not ideal, but we've got plenty more."
Gregorius, who garnered similar fan response in his first days replacing Derek Jeter as the Yanks' starting shortstop, indicated that Stanton shouldn't worry about the reaction.
"Fans are always going to boo you, and the reason why they boo you is because they want you to do good," Gregorius said. "It's not because they hate you. They want you to be here. There's a reason why you're here.
"And that's the one thing I've learned; the only way to get better is to keep putting in more work. That's what all these guys are doing. I mean, it was a bad day today, but if [Stanton] gets five home runs, everyone's going to forget about it."
Including Stanton, only three Yankees position players have gone 0-for-5 with five strikeouts in a game. Andy Phillips did it on May 2, 2005, against the Devil Rays, and Bernie Williams did it on Aug. 21, 1991, against the Royals.
The last Yankees player to strike out five times in a game was David Adams, who did it while going 1-for-6 on Sept. 29, 2013, against the Astros.
"It's no big deal. He knows that," Aaron Judge said. "You've just got to go out there and do your job the next day. If you don't have it one day, you can't complain, you can't mope -- which he's not. He knows how it is. He didn't have his best stuff today, so he's going to keep working and get them tomorrow."