Stanton can't stop hitting homers vs. Red Sox
Feat is a first in Yankees history, breaking tie with Mantle from 1954
NEW YORK -- Giancarlo Stanton had the steely glare of a man on a mission as he concluded the 2021 season, seeming as though he might single-handedly destroy the Red Sox pitching staff. The Yankees’ slugger has carried that over into the new campaign, helping the club get off to its best start in years.
Stanton blasted a go-ahead, two-run homer in the sixth inning, marking his sixth consecutive game with a home run against Red Sox pitching, including last year’s American League Wild Card Game. Anthony Rizzo also homered to power New York’s 4-2 victory on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
“Just forcing them to get some balls over the plate, be on time and get the barrel to it,” said Stanton, whose decisive shot came off starter Nick Pivetta. “I can’t say it’s the rivalry or anything. I’m doing my homework and getting the ball over the plate.”
In helping the Yanks begin a season with two wins for the first time since 2018, Stanton became the first Yankee to homer in six straight games against the Red Sox. Sunday’s blast broke a tie with Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who homered in five consecutive contests against Boston in 1954.
Ken Griffey Jr. (1996-97) and Jim Thome (1997) were the other big leaguers to homer in five straight against the Red Sox.
“We’re talking about a great hitter and a great power hitter,” said manager Aaron Boone. “Finishing last year on a high note like he was, and coming off what I thought was a really meaningful and purposeful spring for him into this season, I just think he’s in a really good mental and physical space right now. That can be the result with a great player.”
Making his first start in the outfield this season -- something that he has opined will help him remain more locked in, hoping to play the field a couple of times a week -- Stanton unloaded on a hanging Pivetta slider, rocketing off Stanton’s bat at 112 mph and carrying 437 feet to the bleachers in left-center field.
“He’s paid to put that type of swing on it, and he put that swing on it,” Pivetta said. “Just my mistake right there.”
The homer came one at-bat after Stanton was robbed on a fourth-inning bullet grounder destined for left field, snared by third baseman Rafael Devers.
“It was good to get one in the air instead of on the ground,” Stanton said, adding, “I can’t tell you why I hit them when I’m playing outfield. It’s just a different rhythm to the game. I’ve got to be able to master both of them because I’m going to do both. That’s what really matters.”
Yankees right-hander Luis Severino, who tossed three-plus innings in his first start since Game 3 of the 2019 AL Championship Series, said he is glad that he doesn’t have to see Stanton from 60 feet and 6 inches.
“He’s unpredictable,” Severino said. “Sometimes you can throw three fastballs down the middle and it will be a strikeout, and the next at-bat it’ll be a homer. Nobody knows what to expect. Even if he doesn’t hit the ball hard, it can be a homer. It’s great to have Giancarlo. I don’t want to face him.”
Added reliever Chad Green, one of six Yanks to fire scoreless, hitless relief: “First off, it’s just the physical presence in the box, knowing he has the ability to hit the ball 115 miles per hour off the bat. Just facing him in live BPs, I know it’s not a fun at-bat. If you leave one, he’s going to put a good swing on it.”
Boston pitchers have been unable to cool Stanton’s bat for a while now. He homered off Nathan Eovaldi in the fourth inning of the Yanks’ Opening Day win on Friday, an opposite-field liner that shattered the finger of a fan unlucky enough to be caught in its path toward the seats in right field.
Stanton homered off Garrett Whitlock in the ninth inning of last year’s AL Wild Card Game at Fenway Park, adding to a ‘gotcha’ list that also featured Eovaldi (Sept. 24), Darwinzon Hernandez (Sept. 25) and Adam Ottavino (Sept. 26) as the Bombers wrapped up the regular season.
“Dating back now, he was in a pretty locked in place,” Boone said. “When ‘G’ gets locked in, that’s what happens.”
In addition to Stanton surpassing Mantle’s 68-year-old record for punishing the Sox, Stanton and Rizzo became the first pair of Yankees teammates to homer in the club’s first two games of the season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The feat has only been achieved nine times in the Modern Era by teammates on any club, last in 2021 by the Giants’ Evan Longoria and Buster Posey.
“It’s awesome,” Stanton said. “I’ve got one of the best seats in the house for it, being on deck [when Rizzo hits]. It’s fun to watch.”