Stanton dings Max with season's first HR

July 24th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- Baseball is officially back, and so is the long ball. launched the first home run of the pandemic-delayed Major League season in the first inning of Thursday's rain-shortened 4-1 Yankees win over the Nationals at Nationals Park.

Stanton's homer, a 459-foot two-run blast to left-center field off Nationals ace Max Scherzer, came with aboard and provided with a quick 2-0 lead before the new Yankees ace threw his first pitch of the evening.

“It's good to get a bead on his fastball,” Stanton said. “It was a fastball in, and it was good to be on time for that. I just got a good bead on it.”

The blast also marked the first homer by a designated hitter in a game played at a National League park between an American League team and an NL team, coming after Stanton called the Bombers’ power potential “unmatched in the league.”

“It’s about as good as you can draw it up, starting the game out that way,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That’s a huge shot in the arm when you're facing another team's ace and you’ve got your ace on the mound. It was a great tone-setter for us in that first inning.”

The 30-year-old Stanton has long been one of the game’s top sluggers, securing the 2017 NL Most Valuable Player Award by virtue of a 59-homer performance for the Marlins, but he was limited to just 18 games last season due to various injuries.

Stanton’s round-tripper came on a 95.9 mph cutter from Scherzer, clocked at 112.2 mph off the bat by Statcast. Stanton has now hit a Major League-leading 82 home runs with an exit velocity of 110 mph or more since Statcast began tracking in 2015. Nelson Cruz is second, with 55.

Stanton also knocked in an insurance run with a fifth-inning RBI single off Scherzer.

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“That's the most important time of the game,” Stanton said. “Sometimes you get one a game, sometimes you get one every three games. Today I had three at-bats, actually, with runners in scoring position. It’s good to execute.”

Washington’s Adam Eaton hit the season's second home run in the bottom of the first inning, a solo shot off Cole.