NEW YORK -- The week was supposed to be an uneventful one in Giancarlo Stanton's world, as the slugger was overseeing construction of a state-of-the-art gymnasium in his Miami home. His cell phone buzzed with an emergency text from his agent, and within hours, there was a verbal commitment in
NEW YORK -- The week was supposed to be an uneventful one in Giancarlo Stanton's world, as the slugger was overseeing construction of a state-of-the-art gymnasium in his Miami home. His cell phone buzzed with an emergency text from his agent, and within hours, there was a verbal commitment in place to wear the Yankees pinstripes.
This December flashback seems relevant because it reminds us that Stanton held all the cards in the decision, that he opted to play in a large market and for a team with World Series aspirations. And when he envisioned doing so, it was for nights like Wednesday, when Stanton crushed a walk-off homer that carried the Yankees to a 7-5 victory over the Mariners.
"It's just cool, man. It's a fun moment," Stanton said. "It's good future memories. That's what you always want, man. You help win a game and you've got the whole team waiting for you."
Stanton's ninth-inning, two-run rocket off Ryan Cook marked the high point of what has been an up-and-down ride so far in New York, particularly at Yankee Stadium, where he heard hearty boos during the first few frigid homestands. Jeers continued intermittently as spring has melted into summer, as did his struggles against right-handed pitchers.
While Stanton freely acknowledges that he has still not pieced together the good weeks and months that propelled him to hit 59 homers and win National League MVP honors with the Marlins last season, his track record suggests that if he remains healthy, incredible numbers are still within reach.
"I'm not worried about me, personally," Stanton said. "For the way our team battled back, it's huge that I could step up in that moment. Me? I'll be fine."
There had been an opportunity for Stanton to deliver in the seventh, when he struck out representing the tying run against Alex Colome. Instead, Gary Sanchez crushed a game-tying homer off the righty in the eighth, setting up a moment that manager Aaron Boone suggested could be key for the 2018 Yankees.
"This was a good one, where it looks like it's going to be a ho-hum, go down in defeat," Boone said. "You're just trying to piece it together from a bullpen standpoint, and the guys just kind of hang around. Maybe when we look back on the year, this will be something they point to -- certainly for Giancarlo, a guy of his stature."
Didi Gregorius raked a two-out single that brought up Stanton, who looked at a slider for a strike and fouled off a fastball to fall into an 0-2 hole. Cook snapped off an 84.7-mph slider that triggered Stanton's reflexes, the meeting of ball against barrel echoing like a cannon blast.
"I didn't even watch it land," Aaron Judge said. "Right when I heard it off the bat, I started trying to hop that little [dugout] fence and get out there. What a swing by him. To stay on a slider like that and deliver, that's awesome."
Cook dejectedly bent at the waist, while Stanton embraced a moment to enjoy the view. The drive carried toward the left-field bullpen, denting a connecting barrier next to the loading dock before ricocheting back onto the playing field.
Stanton screamed and grinned widely as he raced toward second base, a thick gold chain jangling out of his uniform top, while his teammates gathered at home plate. Even Masahiro Tanaka -- on the disabled list with a pair of strained hamstrings -- joined the crowd of leaping, ecstatic Bombers.
"Everybody knows the type of ballplayer he is," Sanchez said. "For him to come through there, I felt really good. I was never worried. He's got so much talent that at any given moment, he's going to be what he can be: an excellent ballplayer."
Unsure whether he should toss his helmet, Stanton instead spiked it, then felt a chill as Brett Gardner dumped the contents of a cooler on the infield. Hugs and handshakes continued as Stanton continued to grin broadly, savoring what he agreed had been his biggest hit as a Yankee so far.
"That ball was absolutely scalded," Boone said. "He's a different animal."
Stanton was asked whether he had ever heard the words "True Yankee Moment," the anticipation of a go-to highlight that has seemingly trailed every high-profile Bombers acquisition of recent vintage. Not really, he responded.
Told that this might be known as his, Stanton replied, "Cool. I'm part of it now."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.