Few players needed the kind of hit more than Giancarlo Stanton had in Thursday night’s fourth inning.
After going 0-for-4 in Wednesday night’s 10-1 victory over the Red Sox, Stanton fell to 8-for-62 in his previous 16 games with one homer and 27 strikeouts in the span.
After drawing a pair of walks against Red Sox lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez in his first two plate appearances Thursday night, Stanton came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth.
Rodriguez walked the bases loaded with two outs and righthander Heath Hembree entered to face Stanton.
Stanton fell behind 0-and-1, then lined a slider that cleared the wall in right, his grand slam giving the Yankees a 6-4 lead and electrifying the Stadium crowd. The noisy gathering demanded a curtain call and Stanton, who bumped his homer total to 35, acquiesced.
But afterward the veteran wasn’t ready to declare himself back on track.
“One [at-bat] isn’t going to do it,” Stanton said. “But it’s a good push. Helps the team.”
But not enough as first Masahiro Tanaka and then the bullpen couldn’t hold the Red Sox, who clinched the AL East title, down in an 11-6 loss.
“They’ve had a solid year, can’t deny that,” Stanton said. “You never want it [Boston clinching] here they get it. They can celebrate now and we’ve got time to celebrate later.”
As for his work at the plate, Stanton said he’s had “better rhythm in the box,” something Aaron Boone alluded to before the game when talking about the outfielder’s slump.
“Timing, which we saw a little early [in the season] when he was really fighting to get traction before he really got going,” Boone continued. “I just think the timing’s been a little bit off.”
As recently as Aug. 21, the slugger seemed headed for quite an encore season to his MVP campaign from the year before.
While not on pace to match the numbers he put up in 2017 with the Marlins, when he hit .281 with 59 homers and a 1.007 OPS, the slugger had put a miserable start behind him.
After picking up two hits in that Aug. 21 game against the Marlins, Stanton was hitting .285 with a .895 OPS.
But it had been a steady decline since then, with the numbers getting worse and worse.
Stanton came into Thursday hitting .261 overall with 34 homers — just two since Aug. 21 — 80 RBIs and a .829 OPS.
“I just think he’s had a little bit of a hard time being on time consistently and the result is sometimes you don’t swing at pitches you should or you’re a little behind on pitches because you’re not on time,” Boone said. “And that’s what he’s really battling to find. When he does, and I believe he will, then it gets really impactful.”