NEW YORK -- The highly anticipated Bronx debut of Giancarlo Stanton turned out to be a dud for the reigning National League MVP, who struck out in all five of his trips to the plate on a frigid, wet day at Yankee Stadium.That was about the only negative for the
NEW YORK -- The highly anticipated Bronx debut of Giancarlo Stanton turned out to be a dud for the reigning National League MVP, who struck out in all five of his trips to the plate on a frigid, wet day at Yankee Stadium.
That was about the only negative for the Yankees on Tuesday, which should be terrifying news for the rest of the American League.
Stanton's platinum sombrero may make for some fun back-page headlines, but the strikeouts didn't hamper the Yankees' offense, which exploded for 11 runs in the home-opening win over the Rays.
"It just goes with the territory," manager Aaron Boone said of Stanton's tough day. "I like when the big boy doesn't get any and we're able to score 11, because there are going to be a lot of days when we hop on his back."
Didi Gregorius did everything necessary to pick up his new teammate, going 4-for-4 with two home runs and eight RBIs in the 11-4 victory. Aaron Judge and Stanton might keep pitchers up at night, but it was Gregorius who proved to be the nightmare for Tampa Bay on this day.
"That was quite a show he put on today," Boone said.
Stanton will surely do the same in the coming days, weeks and months, but Tuesday served as a reminder that opposing teams must worry about the entire lineup, not just Judge and Stanton.
So much attention has been paid to the two sluggers -- and rightfully so -- that it's easy to forget just how deep this Yankees lineup is.
"Each and every night, for the most part, we're going to make it hard on you -- even when you have your way with us," Boone said. "There are going to be times when we get shut down a little bit, but I guarantee you it's because the other guy is making pitches and had to work real hard."
Want proof? Look no further than the fifth inning.
Judge led off with a five-pitch walk against Rays ace Chris Archer, who then struck out Stanton on five pitches. Gregorius drew a five-pitch walk of his own, putting runners at first and second for Gary Sanchez.
Like his three teammates before him, Sanchez saw five pitches in his at-bat, scorching a ball that registered 112.7 mph off the bat, the hardest-hit ball in the game. Unfortunately for the Yankees, he hit it directly at third baseman Matt Duffy, who started an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Still, Archer needed 20 pitches to get through an inning in which he didn't allow a hit or a run.
"When you're constantly throwing high-stress pitches, high-leverage pitches, eventually we have guys up and down the order that can take advantage when you do make a mistake," Boone said.
Kevin Cash recalled the moment he learned the Yankees had acquired Stanton, comparing it to the day the Red Sox traded for Chris Sale. In each instance, his job managing the Rays got a little tougher. But even on a day when Cash's pitching staff dominated Stanton, the rest of the Yankees' relentless lineup made Archer and his bullpen pay for their mistakes.
"Look, they have a very potent lineup; a very dangerous lineup," Cash said. "They probably have guys 1-9 that can beat you if you're not smart in how you attack them."
Judge didn't wow the crowd with any tape-measure blasts on Tuesday, but he reached base four times (two singles and two walks), scoring twice and driving in a run. He was one of six Yankees to reach base more than once in the game, and while Gregorius drove in a career-high eight -- more than any shortstop in Yankees history -- it was another infielder, 23-year-old Tyler Wade, that got the scoring started against Archer with a run-scoring hit in the second inning.
"That's the biggest thing I even noticed last year; we won a lot of our games when the bottom of our lineup was hitting," Judge said. "Maybe the top of the order was just getting on base and it was those 5-6-7-8 guys that would come up and do something big. Tyler Wade got that first RBI off Archer early. You have to do that, especially against a guy like him."
Opening Day was all about Stanton. Brandon Drury and Christopher Austin had big games in Toronto, while Gregorius was the star in the home opener. Judge and Sanchez will have their nights, too, though the luxury of being a part of this Yankees lineup is that when you struggle the way Stanton did Tuesday, there's still a good chance you'll walk off the field shaking hands with your teammates to celebrate a victory.
"It's who do you want to face? Who do you want to go after?" Judge said. "If they try to go around me or G, you've got Didi up with two guys on. If you go around Didi, you've got Gary right behind him and a hot Drury right behind him. Pick your poison."
Good luck to the rest of the AL as teams try to find an antidote.