HOUSTON — Giancarlo Stanton’s return to the Yankees’ lineup lasted all of one game.
Stanton, who suffered a right quadriceps strain while running out an infield hit in ALCS Game 1, missed Games 2-4 before starting Game 5 at DH and going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
When the Game 6 lineup came out late Saturday afternoon, Edwin Encarnacion was back in and Stanton was out. Encarnacion went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in Game 6 and fell to 1-for-18 with 11 strikeouts in the series.
“Just one of those hard decisions,” Aaron Boone said before the game. “Wanted to get Edwin back in there. Feel like he’s got a big at-bat in him. I feel the same way about G, frankly, so toiled over [it] and I want to decide to keep the infield as it is.”
Stanton did not look especially good in his at-bats Friday and did not seem to get down the line well on the one ball he put in play, a groundout to short.
“He came out of it OK,” Boone said. “[But] he’s still obviously dealing with it. I give G a lot of credit because there’s definitely an injury and he’s doing all he can to get out there. He wants in there, he’s wanted in there every game. But this was just my decision. I thought this was the best way to go today.”
Boone said Stanton wanted to play but was “all right” with the decision.
“He’s ready to go,” Boone said. “He knows there’s potentially a big at-bat off the bench today. I think everyone . . . This is about all of us right now. And I think all the guys are all in on that.”
Sticking with Gary
Boone didn’t hesitate, or elaborate, in addressing whether he considered benching Gary Sanchez, who was 3-for-28 with 15 strikeouts this postseason, in Game 6. “No. No,” he said.
Sanchez lined a two-out RBI single up the middle in the second inning to bring the Yankees within 3-1 in Game 6. He wound up 1-for-3 in the game and 3-for-23 with 12 strikeouts in the series.
Entering Game 6, Sanchez, Encarnacion, Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner and Gio Urshela were a combined 10-for-90 in the ALCS. They were 6-for-70 in Games 2 through 5. Those five went a combined 7-for-17 in Game 6, though, and Urshela homered.
The Yankees outhit the Astros 10-6 in Game 6 after going 21-for-132 with 42 strikeouts in Games 2 through 5.
In the final five games, they wound up scoring 14 runs, including 12 on seven homers. They struck out 64 times in the six-game series.
Aaron Hicks, who missed almost the entirety of the last two months of the regular season and the Division Series against the Twins with a flexor strain in his right elbow, was a surprise addition to the ALCS roster. The move has paid off.
Hicks, among the more disciplined Yankees at the plate, came into Saturday with a .462 on-base percentage in the series. He delivered arguably the biggest hit of the series for the Yankees, a tiebreaking three-run homer off the rightfield foul pole off Justin Verlander in the first inning of their 4-1 Game 5 win.
“Ultimate strike zone control,” Boone said of Hicks’ contribution. “I feel like since his first at-bat when he pinch hit here [in Game 2] and then carried it right into now, I feel like the quality of his at-bats have been there. And I feel like physically he’s moving around well. I feel like he’s moving well in the outfield, and I think clearly a guy that likes playing in these games that mean a little bit more.”
With David Lennon