NEW YORK -- After getting off to a much quieter start to the second half of the season than it did in the first, the Yankees' offense was unleashed Thursday night, putting its power back on full display in the Bronx.Giancarlo Stanton set a Statcast™ mark with his 28th home
NEW YORK -- After getting off to a much quieter start to the second half of the season than it did in the first, the Yankees' offense was unleashed Thursday night, putting its power back on full display in the Bronx.
Giancarlo Stanton set a Statcast™ mark with his 28th home run, and Neil Walker homered from both sides of the plate for the first time in his career as the Yankees hit five homers for a 7-3 victory over the Rangers in the series opener at Yankee Stadium, extending their win streak to four games.
Aaron Hicks went deep in the first inning, Miguel Andujar and Walker hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth and Stanton delivered an absolute heater in the fifth, all off rookie starter Ariel Jurado, who allowed six runs through five frames in his Bronx debut. Stanton's laser was the hardest-hit home run since Statcast™ started tracking in 2015, registering 121.7 mph on the clock and surpassing Aaron Judge's 121.1-mph mark.
• Stanton adds to legend with laser HR
"When you get all of it, it's pretty much one feeling. I can't tell you that I know exactly what the miles per hour is," Stanton said. "I mean, it's cool when you get the numbers like that, but, in general, if it goes over the fence, it goes over the fence. If it doesn't, it doesn't. I've seen balls 95 miles an hour go over, so as long as you get enough."
The players in the Yankees' dugout, however, knew that this one was different from the rest.
"That's one of those in today's game, you see it hit off the bat and everyone's just like taken aback," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "You're like, 'All right, where's it going to land?' And you take a look at the scoreboard at the exit velocity and everyone's like, 'I think that's the hardest one we've seen.' It really is amazing how hard he hits the ball when he really squares it up."
Prior to Stanton's blast, Andujar launched an 85.5-mph, first-pitch slider 405 feet into left-center field, as projected by Statcast™, for his 16th home run of the season. Just three pitches later, Walker followed with his fifth homer of the year, sending a 1-1 pitch to the second deck in right field just inside the foul pole. Walker squeaked his second home run of the night just over the left-field fence off Rangers reliever Matt Moore.
"It's pretty special in terms of being a switch-hitter, for sure," Walker said. "I think when you're barreling balls up just from both sides of the plate -- especially in the same game or same series, regardless of the outcome -- that's kind of your goal as a switch-hitter. That's kind of the mentality of what you're trying to accomplish, and that's a good sign that the timing and rhythm are where they need to be."
Hicks started the home run frenzy with two outs and a runner on in the first, blasting his 20th of the season and further extending his career high. Prior to the season starting, Hicks said that his goal was to hit at least 20 home runs in 2018.
"I wanted to try to hit 20, and ultimately staying healthy throughout the whole year was big for me. I was able to do that today," Hicks said. "I think me and Judge were talking about it when I had 18. I kind of wanted to go 19, 20 and not get stuck on 19. It was fun to be able to do it this soon."
Hicks is now the fourth Yankee to reach 20 homers this season along with Stanton (28), Judge (26) and Didi Gregorius (20), leading all Major League clubs.
The Yankees' offense gave plenty of support to starter J.A. Happ, who made his second start in pinstripes and first since coming off the disabled list with hand, foot and mouth disease. Happ logged his 10th quality start of the year, permitting three runs on four hits -- including a fourth-inning homer by Jurickson Profar and a two-run double by Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth -- with nine strikeouts through six innings.
"I tried not to overthink that part of it," Happ said of returning from his virus. "I felt fine physically, so I was just trying to go out there and have confidence from the get-go. So I was definitely focused on trying to attack."
According to STATS, Yankees starting pitchers have recorded at least eight strikeouts in five consecutive starts for the first time in franchise history during the live ball era, and the ninth time in Major League history. They have gone 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 47 strikeouts over the streak.
HE SAID IT
"I mean, I think it was at like 17 degrees or something, so for the rest of us, I think that's just a normal base hit, and now for him it's a homer. It's special. The way that he's able to make contact with a baseball, it's God-given." -- Hicks, on Stanton's home run
Masahiro Tanaka (9-2, 3.76 ERA) will get the ball for the Yankees on Friday in the second contest of the four-game set against the Rangers. The right-hander has been solid since returning from the disabled list on July 10, posting a 1.78 ERA in five starts with 36 strikeouts. He allowed four runs in five frames against Texas on May 21. Last time out, Tanaka permitted one run on six hits through 4 2/3 innings in New York's 10-inning loss at Boston. Left-hander Mike Minor (8-6, 4.53 ERA) will take the mound for the Rangers. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.